La Treizième Étoile: 22/05/11 - 29/05/11 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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UKIP MEPs defection to the Tories draws immediate criticism from the party's Earl

Saturday, 28 May 2011
UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman, left, has revealed he is defecting from UKIP back to the Conservative party and has immediately drawn stark criticism from his former colleagues in the European Parliament.

The
East of England MEP had previously served as the UKIP party’s chairman and deputy leader, and rose quickly through the ranks after gaining his seat in Brussels in the 2009 European elections. Such was his rise within the party that he stood against Nigel Farage for the party’s leadership in 2010. He was unsuccessfully (of course) for the second time in his bid for the leadership but did notably criticise Nigel Farage's leadership style during the campaign and said he wanted to move the party in a more serious direction.

In a statement justifying his defection, Mr Campbell Bannerman said: “I have been pleased with the robust stance taken by David Cameron and Conservative MEPs over the EU budget negotiations and I believe that it is Conservative MEPs who are working hard to defend Britain's interests.

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, UKIP MEP for the South West, has reacted angrily to the news and released a statement on the site of the EFD group in which UKIP sit in the European Parliament:

"David Campbell-Bannerman in defecting to the Conservatives has broken the trust of those who voted for him as a UKIP MEP,” the statement reads. “That is why I call on David Campbell-Bannerman, who I have known as a man of honour, to resign as an MEP.”

When David was chosen as a UKIP MEP candidate, he signed a pledge that he would ‘remain a member of UKIP for the full 5-year term or otherwise retire from the Parliament’. He has broken that promise.

Mr Campbell Bannerman was originally a member of the Conservative party so it would appear as if he has now defected both ways. More importantly, it now means the UKIP party are down to just nine members in Brussels having now lost a third of the 13 members elected in 2009.

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EU finds political agreement to launch ‘European Heritage’ label (but UK declines to take part)

Thursday, 26 May 2011
Last week (19th May) in a meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport ministers of the European Council, a political agreement was reached on launching a 'European Heritage' label that will mark sites which have an important place in European history and EU integration.

Modelled on the United Nations’ World Heritage program (UNESCO), it is hoped the label will foster a common identity and strengthen European citizens' sense of belonging to the European Union as it will be awarded to historical sites across Europe that "symbolise European integration, ideals and history".

So it perhaps therefore should come as little surprise to learn the UK has voiced displeasure and chosen to abstain from the scheme. As reports EurActiv, the UK believes its current UNESCO world heritage sites – which in the South West includes the East-Devon – Dorset coastline, the Cornish Mining landscape and the City of Bath - are sufficient and no further EU-labelled sites are needed. It will therefore propose no UK sites for future consideration.

Each member state will be able to nominate up to two sites every other year, and a group of experts will choose a maximum of one site per country to receive the label. The European Heritage Label has already been awarded to 68 places from 18 member states including the Acropolis in Athens (Greece), the shipyards of Gdansk (Poland) and the French home of Robert Schuman, a founding father of the European Union.

At an allocated cost of €650,000 to implement the first round of awarding new labels, Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, has previously said the initiative had a price that was "small compared to the potential educational and tourist benefits".

Following the political agreement, a formal decision establishing the label should be adopted by the full European Council in July and by MEPs in an autumn session of the European Parliament. On the proviso that these votes will be passed, preparatory work to set up the label will be carried out in the next 18 months with a view to the first selection procedure taking place in 2013.


EU’s ambitious and costly GPS satellite programme Galileo set for October take-off

Monday, 23 May 2011
The first two satellites of the EU’s Galileo satellite programme will be launched on Thursday October 20th from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the European Commission has announced today.

Taking its name after the Italian Galileo Galilei, the "father of modern observational astronomy", the much-delayed programme was first devised in 1999 and got the go-ahead in 2003 by has been plagued with criticism and setbacks regarding its funding.

In 2007, the public-private partnership set up to provide funding collapsed, leaving the EU public purse to foot the entire bill, and a British House of Commons report in September that year denounced it as "a textbook example for how not to run an infrastructure project" (p30).

While a definitive cost figure remains unknown, estimates of €3bn were swiftly upgraded to nearer €5.4bn, and a leaked paper back in October 2010 even put this figure in excess of €20bn – a figure that angered South West MEP Giles Chichester who exclaimed: “this figure is astonishing. We are in favour of Galileo but not at any price”.

But Antonio Tajani, the European Commissioner of Industry and Entrepreneurship, says the project is now “running on schedule and saving money” and thus the process of launching the first of an eventual fleet of 18 satellites into orbit can begin.

This launch is of historical importance,he said,Europe is demonstrating that it has the capability to be at the forefront of technological innovation. Thousands of SMEs and innovators across Europe will be able to spot business opportunities and to create and develop their products based on the future Galileo infrastructure. Citizens will benefits from its services. Galileo is value for money and I count on Members States’ cooperation to find a solution for its financing.

The Commission hopes that the project will rival the US Global Positioning System (GPS) that is widely used in a wide range of navigational devices such as those used by drivers to find street directions and provide EU citizens with better coverage boasting it will give users greater accuracy - down to a metre and less, greater penetration in urban centres, inside buildings, and under trees, as well as faster connection times.

Successive launches will complete the constellation by 2019, but the service is scheduled to go online in 2014 – a mere six years later than originally planned.

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