La Treizième Étoile: 14/04/13 - 21/04/13 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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Watson on Guantánamo Bay: it is ‘time for America to remove this stain on its moral integrity’

Friday, 19 April 2013
South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has spoken out against the continued use by the United States of the Guantánamo Bay detention centre stating it is “time for America to remove this stain on its moral integrity” and that the camp has “contradicted America’s profession of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

During a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday, Sir Graham said: “The closure of what Amnesty International has described as ‘the Gulag of our times’ was promised when Obama came to office. Four years later, in an act of collective despair, most prisoners are on hunger strike. The time has come for America to remove this stain on its moral integrity. We stand side by side with America in the fight against terror. We deplore the Boston bombings, but we plead to our friends across the Atlantic to see that this injustice will serve to recruit – not to deter – the enemies of freedom.

He also spoke in the debate that followed on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan.


SW MEP hails big step forward in EU fight against cyber crime as ENISA improvement package adopted

Wednesday, 17 April 2013
MEPs this week approved a package of improvements to the EU’s cyber-security operations including measures agreed during detailed negotiations in Brussels led by the Parliament’s rapporteur South West Conservative MEP Giles Chichester.

In painstaking talks with representatives of the EU Council and Commission, that lasted more than two years and broke down last December, Mr Chichester hammered out a wholesale revision of the mandate for the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), which has been in operation since 2005 with a budget of €8 million a year, but has attracted criticised for its modest scope and effectiveness.

Mr Chichester says the package of measures, adopted with 626 votes in favour out of the 687 votes given in total, will ultimately make the European Union’s governments, businesses, security agencies and citizens safer from the growing menace of cyber attack.

We ignore or downplay the threat of cyber crime at our peril. It is a real and present danger and we have to be sure that we constantly update and renew our network to combat it,he said in a statement. “We cannot allow national or regional rivalry stop us making sure these defences are up to the job and up to the minute.

It is a prime area where the pooled resources of nations working together will achieve far more than individual states working in a vacuum. By redefining the objectives and tasks of the agency we have made it more effective, more efficient and more accountable to Parliament

ENISA will now base a large proportion of its operational work in Athens and will expand its role in liaising with security organisations in member states and in collecting and disseminating security data. The location of its headquarters on the Greek island of Crete had drawn the agency criticism as flights from other parts of Europe are scarce outside summer months thus making access difficult and created a perception that it operated on the EU’s periphery.


UK needs more marine conservation areas like Lyme Bay to save fragile aquaculture

South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has this week used a speech in the European Parliament to call for the EU to designate more marine conservation areas to protect the UK’s fragile aquaculture.

Speaking on Monday evening in Strasbourg, Sir Graham said that only 0.001% of the sea area around the UK is highly protected or closed to fishing, with the coral-rich Lyme Bay in East Devon and Dorset (see map above left) one of the few protected sea sites in the UK. He then referred to research conducted by Plymouth University that has shown sub-sea aquaculture is beginning to recover there as a result.

Thousands of my constituents have contacted me calling for reform of the common fisheries policy. When I ask them what further steps they want, 99% say more marine conservation zones around our coasts,he said. “A number of Europe’s marine areas are protected through sites of Community importance to protect specific species and sub-sea geology. One such area is Lyme Bay in my constituency. But early findings from research in these areas, including by the excellent Marine Institute of Plymouth University, indicate that sub-sea aquaculture is beginning to recover.

We need a partnership between fishermen, scientists and conservationists to do this, and if we add it to the opportunity for investment in renewable generation, we can do much to protect our aquaculture.


Tory MEPs hit back hard at UKIP Farage's ‘mischievous’ claim to Iron Lady’s legacy

Tuesday, 16 April 2013
The British Conservative MEP delegation have today angrily hit back at the claims made by UKIP leader Nigel Farage in an opinion piece in the Times (£) that his party were the successors to Margaret Thatcher’s heritage and that there would have been “no need for UKIP” if she had remained the Conservative party's leader.

South West MEP Julie Girling has led the charge with a strongly-worded rebuttal in which she declared that Farage’s theory was a “profound misrepresentation of all that the great lady did and stood for” and that UKIP are “devious and uncivil”.

In a statement on her website, Mrs Girling said: “She [Baroness Thatcher] played a pivotal role in the expansion of the EU towards the Eastern Bloc, and in doing so, freeing the citizens of Eastern European nations from the shackles of Communism. In many of these former Iron Curtain states, Mrs. Thatcher is revered as a liberator. UKIP, by contrast, are viewed with dismay and suspicion as to their motives. She would have supported a referendum to let the people decide as she trusted in democracy, whereas UKIP have only one aim, withdrawal without consulting the British people.

Margaret Thatcher believed in getting stuck in, working hard and negotiating a better deal for Britain based on sound figures and hard facts. UKIP believe in doing as little as possible to pick up their wages and expenses, and in embarrassing Britain by bandying false statistics and made-up ‘facts’.

UKIP's tendency to insult others has not just been confined to their continental counterparts. Problems in their approach to women resulted in the party's two female MEPs leaving. Both Marta Andreasen MEP and Nikki Sinclaire MEP accused Farage and his party of misogyny,she continued.

In dealing with Europe Mrs Thatcher was direct but never rude. UKIP are devious, and uncivil in a way that shames our national reputation for good manners.

The gloves are most definitely off.

SEE ALSO: South West Conservative MEPs react to the death of ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher (08/04)


UK MEP accuses EU of a ‘cop out’ and ‘washing its hands of Gibraltar territorial waters’ dispute

Sunday, 14 April 2013
A UK Liberal Democrat MEP has accused the European Commission of “washing its hands of Gibraltar territorial waters” after receiving an unsatisfactory reply from the Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik to a parliamentary question.

Chris Davies MEP, who sits on both the European Parliament’s Environment and Fisheries Committees, submitted a Parliamentary question to the European Commission last month to try and extract a clear statement regarding the situation of marine conservation around Gibraltar.

In his parliamentary question (E-001631/2013) he asked the Commission which country or countries were legally responsible for the supervision and control of fishing in the area up to 5km from and around the coast of Gibraltar, which country or countries were legally responsible for activities affecting the seabed, and what EU protected nature sites were located in this area and who was responsible for their management and protection.

The reply received on 3 April reads simply: “The Commission is not in a position to comment on the legal responsibilities of Member States in the area in question, as jurisdictional issues concerning these marine waters are a matter for Member States to address in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”. The reply then refers to answers previously provided to four questions tabled by fellow Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson, who represents Gibraltar in Brussels.

Speaking exclusively to Gibraltar’s Panorama newspaper, Mr Davies said: “I think it will come as a surprise to many MEPs that the European Union seems to have washed its hands entirely of matters relating to Gibraltar, even when they directly relate to our common policies on fisheries and the environment, and even when they are of common interest to European citizens.

It’s a cop out to say the least.

In June 2012, Commissioner Potočnik said both the United Kingdom and Spain must cooperate in their management of EU protected sites around the disputed Rock of Gibraltar and the governments should have informed each other about their intentions before designating nature sites in disputed territory and added that both sides had legal obligations to protect the designated site of specific cultural interest (SCI).

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.