La Treizième Étoile: 06/10/13 - 13/10/13 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
Gibraltar MEP calls for Rock to become part of Schengen passport-free zone

Saturday, 12 October 2013
Gibraltar Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has called for Gibraltar to apply to become part of the Schengen passport-free travel zone. This would allow the removal of passports and immigration controls at the frontier.

Speaking yeaterday at the Treaty of Utrecht Symposium, part of a series of events organised by the Government of Gibraltar to mark the 300th anniversary of the Treaty, he said: "Even if the UK stays in, as I fervently hope, might we not envisage a long term solution to the border dispute with Spain lying in an accession by Gibraltar to the Schengen Convention?"

"If France can be a signatory to Schengen without its overseas territories being covered, could not Gibraltar enjoy this position in reverse?"

Meanwhile, the Gibraltar newspaper Panorama understands that the Spanish Government ‘would not object to Gibraltar Joining Schengen’.

Update 14/10: In the same keynote address, Sir Graham expressed the belief that the European Union could play a more prominent role in Gibraltar issues in the future and that the EU could 'square the Gibraltar triangle'.


UKIP confirm their SW regional list for #EP2014 with incumbent Earl of Dartmouth lead candidate

Tuesday, 8 October 2013
The UK Independence Party has confirmed its list of six candidates to contest the 2014 European elections in the South West region in May with incumbent MEP William the Earl of Dartmouth reselected by UKIP party members in the region to be head of the list.

Second on the list is Dr Julia Reid, who is the European Parliamentary assistant of Trevor Colman, the other UKIP MEP for the region who resigned from the EFD Group that the party fronts in the European Parliament in March 2011. UKIP's Head of Media, Gawain Towler, is third.

The full list [and number of votes]:

  1. William the Earl of Dartmouth (incumbent MEP, 2009-) [16,796]
  2. Dr Julia Reid [11,155]
  3. Gawain Towler [6,174]
  4. Tony McIntyre [4,391]
  5. Robert Smith [4,366]
  6. Keith Crawford [2,856]

UKIP announced their shortlist on 12 August 2013. 45,738 votes were cast for the candidates in the region to determine the order. In the separate membership ballot of 31,000, each member had 10 votes which could be given to candidates in all regions.

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SW Lib Dem MEP backs 'freedom to choose' ahead of European Parliament vote on e-cigarettes

Sunday, 6 October 2013
Members of the European Parliament meeting for the first October plenary session this week in Strasbourg will vote on Tuesday (from midday) on a controversial dossier on the manufacture and presentation of tobacco products.

One of the most contentious parts of the proposal includes regulating electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) as medicinal products which has prompted South West MEP Graham Watson, along with his Liberal Democrat colleagues, to warn that that new measures to restrict the use of e-cigarettes could make it more difficult to give up smoking. They have tabled an amendment to prevent new restrictive regulation.

Commenting ahead of the vote this week, Sir Graham said: “It would be absolutely wrong for the EU to restrict new technologies that could help people stop smoking and reduce the damage that tobacco causes. This is about freedom of choice as much as saving lives. If a product can actually save lives, is well regulated and works, then why should we restrict its use?

"Regulating e-cigarettes as medical products and making them more difficult to obtain than normal cigarettes makes no sense whatsoever. We need to be making it easier for people to switch from cigarettes to less damaging alternatives, not putting obstacles in the way of people who want to quit."
E-cigarettes are used by an estimated 1.3 million people across the UK and are widely recognised as being infinitely less harmful than tobacco. Cancer Research UK says that up to 60,000 lives could be saved over the decade through consumers switching to electronic cigarettes.
UPDATE: 08/10/2013 19:50
MEPs voted today on this dossier and rejected plans for e-cigarettes to be treated as medicines, which would have increased their cost and reduced their availability in many countries.

Welcoming the vote result, Sir Graham said in a press release: "E-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked. They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers can use as an alternative to cigarettes.

"Every year 700,000 people in Europe die of smoking-related diseases. We should do nothing that makes e-cigs harder to obtain than tobacco cigarettes."

The European Parliament decision on e-cigs was opposed by Labour MEPs but supported by Liberal Democrat and Conservative members.

The vote now puts the European Parliament in conflict with government ministers from Britain and a majority of other EU countries. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to all British MEPs last week urging them to back medicinal regulation for e-cigarettes. Attempts must now be made to find a compromise between the European Parliament's position and that of the national government ministers in the Council.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.