La Treizième Étoile: 15/09/13 - 22/09/13 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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Why does Gibraltar have implications for the West Country? ITV investigates (video)

Saturday, 21 September 2013
Gibraltar has been in the news headlines rather a lot lately, not least because of the continued sovereignty dispute, the increased queues at the border instigated by Spanish police and the imminent arrival of European Commission monitors to assess the situation at the border (see: link, link, link, link).

ITV's political correspondent Bob Constantine produced a video report this week from the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow in which he explains how these issues could influence how people there vote in next year's European elections, and why that in turn could affect citizens in the West Country because Gibraltar is now considered part of the region when it comes to the European elections.

You can view the rather good report here:

Source: ITV News

BIG NEWS: European Commission confirm border mission team to visit Gibraltar on September 25

Tuesday, 17 September 2013
The European Commission has confirmed that a team of monitors will visit Gibraltar next week (25 September) in a bid to resolve the long-running dispute over the territory that has flared up in recent months.

The request came from British Prime Minister David Cameron who called European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and urged him to urgently send an EU monitoring team to gather evidence on the lengthy border control delays instigated by the Spanish government. Following the phonecall, Number 10 said: "We believe that the European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, should investigate the issue."

"The mission – as agreed on August 19 – will visit the border between Spain and Gibraltar on 25 September to assess the border controls, free movement of people and goods, including fraud and smuggling", a Commission spokesman said today a statement.

"It was also agreed that the complaints made by Spain regarding the dumping of concrete blocks and the re-sanding in the context of the Eastside project will be dealt with in parallel and with the necessary thoroughness by the European Commission."

More information about the mission can be found on this European Commission Memo (doc).

Spain had been blocking the arrival of the team, which will be led by Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, insisting that the Commission should not only inspect the border but also investigate Gibraltar’s offshore economy and look into allegations of money laundering and environmental damage, both strongly denied by the UK and Gibraltar. And according to diplomatic sources quoted in the Times it eventually took a stern phone call yesterday morning from the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy to make Spain cave in.

The Foreign Office said on Tuesday night it welcomed the mission and said: “We welcome this confirmation that a monitoring mission will be sent. We stand ready to offer all necessary support to ensure that the mission can conduct its investigation successfully.”

Last week, the European Commission President vowed to take action if the inspection team found evidence to suggest EU rights had been breached. During an online Q+A session hosted by Euronews in response to a Gibraltarian Tony Evans, Mr Barroso said (click for video): “We have to do (this inspection) in an objective, impartial, independent manner. And afterwards of course, if there is a violation of any of the freedoms, we will not hesitate to act because we have to be sure that European law is respected.

Cornwall MEP praises European Parliament call for more protection for endangered languages such as Kernowek

Sunday, 15 September 2013
The European Parliament has this week called on EU governments to do more to preserve regional and minority languages. This report follows soon after a report by the United Nations cultural body UNESCO, in which the Cornish language is now described as "endangered".

The report on endangered European languages and linguistic diversity in the European Union recommends that the Member States “monitor the development of the most vulnerable languages on” and calls on the Commission to “consider whether it might lay down specific European measures to preserve, protect, and promote endangered languages” and to “propose concrete policy measures for the protection of endangered languages”.

Multi-linguist MEP Sir Graham Watson, who represents Cornwall in the European Parliament, supported the report and after the vote in Strasbourg said: “Protecting our regional culture and diversity is vital. And protecting ancient languages is just as important as protecting our regional food, drink and geography. For many years I have campaigned to encourage more people to take up another language. That is why I was very happy to support these proposals in Parliament today."

"As a linguist by training, I understand the importance of languages. Even with the spread of English as a language of communication, it is still dwarfed as a mother tongue by Mandarin and still less widely used than Spanish. And languages less widely used than these three often need active support. Language shapes thought, and linguistic diversity provides diverse forms of intelligence. Artifacts such as sculpture or scripture can be saved when a culture becomes extinct. A language cannot. It lives and dies with the people who speak it. We must therefore do all we can to preserve our languages."

Dan Rogerson, Cornish language campaigner and Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, added: “I am pleased that the European Parliament has voted to recognise the importance of protecting cultural heritage such as the Cornish language. Sir Graham Watson's support has been unwavering on these issues and I thank him for that. It is my belief that the Cornish language is intrinsically worth supporting and encouraging - but it also brings benefits to the region in terms of cultural tourism and raising the status of Cornwall.

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.