La Treizième Étoile: 29/05/11 - 05/06/11 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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ECR nominates long-serving SW MEP Giles Chichester for vacant vice-presidency spot

Thursday, 2 June 2011
Giles Chichester in addition to being energy spokesmen played a key role in bringing about the mobile voice roaming regulation to protect consumers from being overcharged. (Photo: West MEP Giles Chichester has been nominated by the ECR group to be their candidate for the vacant position of Vice-President of the European Parliament.

In a statement posted on the group’s official website, Mr Chichester’s nomination was “agreed through an acclamation”, and has the support of Jan Zahradil, the group’s chair, who said: "Giles is an excellent candidate who commands respect across the chamber".

The long-serving MEP said he was delighted to be selected. “I have been an active member of this parliament for 17 years and I hope that my colleagues and many friends will give me the opportunity to represent it as a vice-president,” he said.

The vacancy has become available after German ALDE MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin resigned her vice-presidency position amid claims she plagiarised her university thesis.

There are 14 vice-presidency positions available and there tends to be an agreement made between the groups when dividing up the posts and thus candidates are usually elected without formal opposition.

However this is set to change following the actions in 2009 of Edward McMillan-Scott, who while a member of the Conservative party within the ECR group, successfully challenged his party's formal candidate Michał Kamiński, was elected, and subsequently expelled from the Conservative party. He later crossed the floor to join the Liberal Democrats (ALDE) but sits as a Non-attached Member in the Parliament.

Now the fourth biggest group in the Parliament thanks to the defection of UKIP MEP David Campbell-Bannerman, the ECR group argues that it is entitled to a vice-president under the standard formula for calculating positions within the Parliament.

Vice-presidents are elected for two and a half years, and according to theParliament the belief within the ALDE group is that the vacant vice-presidency position belongs to them and they inherited an additional spot when Mr McMillan-Scott changed political groups. They therefore expect the German ALDE delegation to nominate one of their own to take the post in light of Ms Koch-Mehrin’s resignation which would be endorsed by the group and then by parliament.

But this now looks set to be bitterly contested by the ECR group, and with Mr Chichester’s nomination they have arguably chosen the strongest and most widely-respected candidate within their ranks.


354 days and counting: Congratulations Belgium – the world record is finally yours!

This morning – Thursday 2nd June 2011 - marks the 354th day since the inconclusive Belgian elections held last June 13th, and Belgium remains locked in a political impasse and without a federal government.

As a result it finally passes the previous world record of days without an administration held by the Kingdom of Cambodia who spent 353 days without a government between the elections on 27th July 2003 and 30th June 2004 when a coalition agreement was finally signed.

The recently-re-elected leader of the Socialists Elio Di Rupo has been charged by the Monarch King Albert II to try and form a coalition government, and while he has already tried once to form a coalition since last June’s elections, the impression this time is that the process is more advanced than it was previously.

While negotiations drag on, the previous government of Yves Leterme continues in its day-to-day role as caretaker.

South West chef and food campaigner takes his Fish Fight to Brussels

Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the celebrity chef from the South West, kicked off his European campaign to end fish discards outside the European Parliament in Brussels today.

Launched in the UK last January, the chef’s Fish Fight campaign to end the practice of discards – whereby fish are thrown back into the sea usually dead by European fishermen to ensure they meet fishing quotas - has already won praise from the European Commission and in particular the Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki who attended the rain-soaked launch in person.

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The Commissioner is currently deciding how to reform the EU’s current Common Fisheries Policy and has acknowledged that current catch restrictions have inadvertently created a massive problem of fish "discards". But full details of her reforms will not be known until 13th July.

After unveiling a large shipwreck monument including a live counter displaying how many had already lodged their support to the cause, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall declared it a “massive day for the Fish Fight campaign, and for the mission to end the insanely wasteful practise of discarding thousands of tonnes of fine edible fish at sea”.

This scandalous activity, which fishermen, conservationists and the fish-eating public all abhor,” he said “is the final insult of a Common Fisheries Policy that is universally agreed to be broken, and no longer fit for purpose.

We promised we would bring their petition here to Brussels and hand it over to our European Fisheries Commissioner [and] to my delight, the number of names on that petition now stands at over 676,000 and it’s still rising every hour of every day, and I’ve come to Brussels to honour my pledge to every single one of those Fish Fighters.

Ms Damanaki, again pronouncing her public support for the campaign, said: "I consider discarding of fish unethical, a waste of natural resources, and a waste of fishermen's effort. Only broad societal awareness and public support can bring about real change in fisheries policy. We need effective campaigns like Hugh's Fish Fight to wake up people to support change."

The campaign website - - will now be accessible in 11 European languages.

While the chef’s campaign was described as “too little too late” by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, South West MEP Julie Girling has welcomed the campaign to Brussels stating it needed to become Europe-wide to bring about change.

Ms Girling, who sits on the parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH) said, “It’s all very well the UK being exercised about it, and we are very keen to ensure we get a resolution of discards, but there are lots of countries in Europe that think they have no interest in this, such as landlocked countries, and it’s really important that they too get on board.

They eat fish; they may not catch them, but they certainly do eat them, and this is all about awareness so that when we come to the negotiations in Council and in Parliament every one of the 27 member states has a voice and many of them chose not to exercise it when it comes to fishing issues,” she said.

(Julie Girling quote from audio produced by Quadrant for UK radio stations)


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