La Treizième Étoile: 17/03/13 - 24/03/13 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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MEPs begin discussions in Committee on sensitive EP single seat report

Saturday, 23 March 2013
Members of the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee have held their first exchange of views earlier this week on the controversial question of where the seats of the EU institutions should be located, which is the subject of a report that is being co-authored by South West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

The report, officially entitled ‘the location of the seats of the European Union’s institutions’ (2012/2308(INI)) is being co-authored with German Green MEP Gerald Hafner, an unusual move that signifies the important the Parliament attaches to the subject matter of the report.

It is expected that the report will focus primarily on the question of the official seat of the European Parliament. Mr Fox is one of the spearheads of the campaign for a single seat for the European Parliament and is the man behind the infamous ‘Fox Amendment’.

The question is sensitive and complex, with France having recently won a case before the European Court of Justice annulling this amendment.

A hearing will now be held on 28 May and the draft report will be presented to the Committee on 17 June, ahead of a vote on 14 October. If adopted by the Committee, it will then be debated and voted on by the entire European Parliament plenary, possibly in its November 2013 session.

Click to watch a video recording of the AFCO Committee session of 19 March (from 11:15)


Gibraltar Government makes historic, high-level, packed-agenda visit to Brussels

Friday, 22 March 2013
A delegation of senior members of the Government of Gibraltar has made a busy but no doubt constructive 48-hour visit to Brussels this week for a large number of high-level meetings on matters relating to the Rock and the EU hosted by Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, Chief Secretary Ernest Gomez, the Government’s Chief Legal Adviser Michael Llamas QC, and UK Representative Albert Poggio.

Packed agenda

On Wednesday, the delegation discussed online gaming legislation with Michel Barnier (left), the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, and met with the Parliament’s rapporteur on the dossier, German Liberal MEP Jurgen Creutzmann, before the Chief Minister made a small piece of history and addressed MEPs in the Internal Market Committee.

The delegation also met with Cecilia Malmström (left), the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, to discuss freedom of movement and the delays experienced by locals at the frontier at the Gibraltar-Spain border. The delegation handed the Commissioner a detailed dossier which included photographs, statistics, press cuttings and details of the frontier queue website that the Gibraltar Government set up in December. That same month, the Commissioner had stated on behalf of the Commission in response to a parliamentary question that it had ‘no indications’ of excessive checks by Spain at the border, but had earlier offered to facilitate technical talks between Gibraltar, Spain and the UK on the matter.

There was a number of meetings with MEPs including Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles (chair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee), Labour MEP Brian Simpson ( Chair of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee), UKIP Leader Nigel Farage, as well as familiar faces Sir Graham Watson, Julie Girling and Ashley Fox who represent Gibraltar in the European Parliament.

Dr Garcia met with the European Commission to discuss marine conservation and explain the position of the Gibraltar Government in relation to the designation of the ‘Estrecho Oriental’ site which overlaps the existing UK-designated ‘Southern waters of Gibraltar’ site. The European Commission, in response to an earlier parliamentary question, had said the UK and Spain must cooperate to manage protected nature sites in Gibraltar waters.

Dr Garcia, the leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party, also paid a courtesy visit to Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister and current leader of the ALDE Group of MEPs in the Parliament.

The Chief Minister and his Deputy later met Sir Jon Cunliffe, the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the European Union, to discuss EU matters of mutual interest to the UK and Gibraltar. “The Ambassador and senior members of his team had a very useful meeting with the delegation. We explained UK Rep’s important role monitoring EU issues which are priorities for Gibraltar and representing Gibraltar in the EU,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office later confirmed to the Gibraltar Chronicle.

To conclude the visit, the Chief Minister delivered a keynote speech on Gibraltar-EU relations at the Edelman Centre. The full transcript can be read here (pdf).

The weekend, the delegation will cross the English Channel to the UK, where the Chief Minister is to deliver a speech in Oxford as part of the city’s Literary Festival.

Photos: Government of Gibraltar

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Gibraltar CM makes history as he addresses MEP Committee on Brussels visit

Wednesday, 20 March 2013
This morning, as part of the Government of Gibraltar delegation’s visit to Brussels, the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo addressed the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament and gave a presentation on online gaming regulation on the Rock.

Mr Picardo was creating a little bit of history as this was the first time that a Chief Minister of Gibraltar has addressed a Committee of the European Parliament.

Prior to taking the floor, Spanish MEP Pablo Arias Echeverria, a member of Spain's governning Partido Popular who want a return to the Brussels Process to negotiate Gibraltar's sovereignty, attempted to prevent the Chief Minister from taking the floor, but was unsuccessful.

CM Picardo explained at length Gibraltar's expertise in this field as part of the debate in committee on an own-initiative report being drafted by the South West of England and Gibraltar MEP Ashley Fox. The report takes the view that common standards for online gambling should address the rights and obligations of both the service provider and the consumer and includes measures to ensure a high level of protection for players (particularly minors and other vulnerable persons) and the prevention of misleading advertisements.

A full transcript of the Chief Minister’s intervention can be read here (pdf).

Alternatively, if you would like to watch the intervention, click here (from 09:45).

Photo: Government of Gibraltar


Gibraltar 'quietly confident' of gaining UEFA membership later this year

Dennis Beiso of the Gibraltar Football Association has earlier today given an interview to Sky Sports News in which he said Gibraltar is ‘quietly confident’ of gaining UEFA membership later this year. Spain, of course, disputes this move and has repeatedly called foul on the application with the Sports Minister Jose Ignacio Wert saying in October that Spain will "exhaust all legal means" to prevent it.

In the interview, Mr Beiso said: “The question of our membership has been ongoing for a number of years, the situation now is that we are in the middle of a lobbying campaign and we are getting our message across to the 53 member nations of UEFA.

"We are running a very positive campaign and we are pointing out there is a deep rooted football culture in Gibraltar and we are getting there slowly but surely and we hope to get the result we feel we believe in May,” he said.

"The opposition has been sadly, up to this date political, there can't be any sporting objection to Gibraltar membership of UEFA - we are quietly confident, we have been provisional members since October last year and on the back of that we have been involved in draws.

A decision on the admission of the Gibraltar Football Association as a full member of UEFA is due to be taken by the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress which will meet in London in May 2013.

A ‘yes’ vote at the UEFA Congress in May would enable Gibraltar to participate in the qualifying games for the Euro 2016 tournament which will be hosted by France.

In January, Gibraltar has registered its first win in an official UEFA match when they beat San Marino 7-5 in its third game of the Futsal Euro 2014 qualifiers in Nice.

SW MEP labelled ‘discourteous and arrogant’ after telling constituents not to send him identical campaign emails

Sunday, 17 March 2013
Giles Chichester MEP (Photo: elected member of the European Parliament for the South West of England and Gibraltar has told constituents who get in touch to share their concerns not to send identical emails created from a template.

Ahead of the European Parliament's vote on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the European Parliament on March 13, South West Conservative MEP Giles Chichester said he received more than 2,000 identical emails from concerned constituents.

Warning that the use of such a campaigning tool could be counter-productive, he sent an identical email in reply that reportedly read: "Because you and over 2,000 others have sent me an identical email, I can say I have received your message, but because of the numbers involved, I cannot reply in detail to each of you individually beyond this acknowledgement. In fact, this number of identical messages is rather counter-productive so far as I am concerned and I suggest you pass this message back to whoever put you all up to this in the first place."

In its report on the story, the Gloucestershire Echo quotes a constituent who described his reply as "dismissive, discourteous and arrogant, and paternalistic".

"As you can see, I am very angry that he should treat a constituent in this way,” she continued. “Gloucestershire has an agricultural community and he should take notice of it.

Mr Chichester’s press officer, Tom Maughan, is then quoted as saying “the emails were courteous, and I don't know what else he could have said. He voted according to the Conservative European delegation's policy on the issue."

In Strasbourg, Mr Chichester voted in favour of the motion for resolution opening and granting a mandate for the inter-institutional negotiations on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.