La Treizième Étoile: 05/12/10 - 12/12/10 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
En route to #EUuk - an intriguing and no doubt fascinating event

Friday, 10 December 2010
Providing my train hasn't been hit by the cold weather, I should be en route to London now to attend an event called #EUuk organised by with the help of the European Commission hosted in Europe House, the new joint home for the offices of the European Commission and Parliament in London.

The European Union has been gaining increased media exposure in recent times, albeit because of having to provide financial assistance to Eurozone countries and the events of certain rogue MEPs, and this event will incorporate two panel discussions that will debate how well EU news coverage is delivered in both the UK media and the British blogosphere and discuss what can be done to improve it.

It promises to be a very interesting event, with lots of prominent names in this arena due to attend and speak in the two discussions, and you can follow the action on Twitter using the special hashtag #EUuk.

The full programme is available here.

Damian Green ‘punctures’ UKIP ‘myth’ that most immigration to the UK comes from within the EU

Wednesday, 8 December 2010
“Britain must regain control of her borders. This can only be done by leaving the European Union” reads the UKIP election manifesto (yes someone does read it). It is a message often repeated by UKIP supporters and party members when it comes to the sticky-issue of immigration, but I’m afraid they might need to adjust their anti-EU focus in response to an answer delivered in the House of Commons on Monday during Home Office Questions.

Responding to a supplementary question from Sheryll Murray (MP for South East Cornwall), the Conservative Immigration Minister Damian Green took the opportunity to “puncture one of the great urban myths in the immigration debate” explaining that the vast majority of immigration comes from outside the European Union.

Here is how Hansard recorded the proceeding:

Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall, Conservative): “How many migrant workers are from within the EU and how many are from elsewhere?”

Damian Green (Minister of State (Immigration), Home Office; Ashford, Conservative): "I am grateful to my hon. Friend for asking that question, because it enables me to puncture one of the great urban myths in the immigration debate, which is that most immigration comes from within the European Union. The net migration figures - which we will get down to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament - show that the vast bulk of immigrants come from outside the European Union. She asked about the numbers. In 2009, 292,000 non-European economic area migrants entered the UK and only 109,000 left. The House will see that the vast majority of net immigration comes from outside the European Union. Such immigration is precisely what we will take action on."

He answered a selection of further questions on non-EU migration which have come as a result of the recent announcement that the number of visas issued next year will be reduced from 28,000 to 21,700.

Soon after, Mr Green launched a public consultation on the reform of Tier Four - the student entry route – and the Home Office issued a quite-simply ridiculous message to its followers on Twitter: “Contribute your views to our consultation into how we can best reduce the number of students who come to the UK”. While I agree prospective students here should be able to speak English and thus be able to integrate into society, I’m increasingly worried foreign students are being made scapegoats, but that’s another argument for another time…

'Reform the Eurozone or we'll leave': Merkel’s nasty but necessary ultimatum

Monday, 6 December 2010
The Guardian revealed this week how the German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned her fellow EU leaders for the first time that her country, the motor and lynchpin of the Eurozone, could abandon the Euro if she fails in her campaign to establish a new regime for the single currency. Could it be that Ms Merkel’s ultimatum turns out to be a shrewd move in a nasty strategy to bring about reforms that the Eurozone vitally needs to ensure its survival?

Good news Eurovision fans: Italy is returning to the stage in 2011!

Sunday, 5 December 2010
After an absence of 13 years, Italy looks set to make a comeback to the Eurovision Song Contest due to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany, next May.

Officials revealed over the weekend that the Italian broadcaster, RAI, has lodged an application to participate in next years’ contest and speculation is already rife that the latest winner of Italy’s version of the X Factor, Nathalie Giannitrapani, could be the one to take the stage for her country.

Italy was one of the first countries to participate in the annual contest which began back in 1956, and has twice won the top prize: in 1964 and 1990.

A “lack of Italian public interest” and “financial reasons” have often been cited for their decision to stay away since 1997, but one unconfirmed theory that circulates says the country’s act of protest began when in 1993 one of their most treasured singer-songwriters, Enrico Ruggeri, finished in a depressingly-low position – something we Brits know all too well... They subsequently accused broadcasters of “catering to the masses' lack of musical sophistication” and of “politicised voting” and have not entered since.

Countries taking part in the 2011 contest have until the end of the year to confirm their participation and can still withdraw without consequences until Christmas. The full list of competing countries will be announced shortly in January.

Luxembourg is another of the original participating countries and it too has been absent from the contest for more than 10 years (last time was 1993). Could Italy’s return prompt a Luxembourgian entry? If so, you can rest assured there will be no ‘douze-points’ awarded to it from France

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.