La Treizième Étoile: 03/07/11 - 10/07/11 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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Giles Chichester shows promise in his hour-long début in the Strasbourg hot seat (and even manages to anger the UKIP's Earl)

Saturday, 9 July 2011
Less than 24 hours after being appointed the latest Vice-President of the European Parliament, South West MEP Giles Chichester took up his place in the hot seat to oversee the conclusion of debates on Wednesday night of the July plenary session in Strasbourg.

Assuming the chair shortly before 9pm, ECR colleague and former group leader Timothy Kirkhope rose on a "point of information" to congratulate Mr Chichester on his new position before the debate on "Changes to Schengen" continued.

Mr Chichester was only in the chair for an hour before closing the sitting for the evening but in that short time he did well passing the floor to various colleagues and showed promise by even managed to anger fellow South West MEP the Earl of Dartmouth less than five minutes into his chairmanship!

Mr Dartmouth, who after speaking for a minute and a half, appeared then to try to 'blue card' himself to gain further speaking time to effectively pose himself a question, but the chair was having none of it and passed the floor to another MEP (Georgios Papanikolaou). Click here to watch the exchange (WMV, 13MB).

However, such occasions in the seat will be limited for Mr Chichester as he only has a mandate for six months until January 2012. It is then that all the Parliament's senior posts, including the presidency currently held by Jerzy Buzek, the 14 vice-presidencies and the chairmanships of committees will be up for election and reappointment at the mid-term point of the seventh Parliamentary five-year term.

Click play below to watch Mr Kirkhope welcoming his ECR colleague to the chair. (Video from ECREuroParl/YouTube)


Long-serving SW MEP Giles Chichester becomes the EP's newest Vice-President

Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Giles Chichester MEP (Photo: South West MEP Giles Chichester was today elected by acclamation as a Vice-President of the European Parliament and said his appointment gives “prestige and status [to the region] in a way that we haven’t had for many years now”. His nomination was unopposed.

Mr Chichester, who was first elected to Parliament in 1994, replaces the ALDE member Silvana Koch-Mehrin who resigned her position as Vice-President following accusations she plagiarised her university thesis.

I’m absolutely delighted – it’s very nice to be elected by acclaim and I’ve very proud to become a Vice-President of a significant office within the Parliament,” he told shortly after the announcement today in Strasbourg.

I’d like to think it gives prestige and status to us [South West] in a way that we haven’t had for some time now. There hasn’t been a Vice President from the South West since I’ve been in the Parliament – which is rather a long time now – but in material terms I’m not sure I can say exactly how it might benefit the South West but I shall look for opportunities to do so.

[This appointment] gives you more status and perhaps this will get me quicker answers from the Commission for my constituents’ concerns,” he pondered. “No, maybe not. The Commission won’t change.

I nurture a hope to run the votes in the Chamber, to do it on time and keep my colleagues happy as a result”, he confessed, “but I’m at the bottom of the hierarchy of Vice-Presidents so I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance.”

Mr Chichester is expected to assume the responsibilities his predecessor Ms Koch-Mehrin, who as Vice-President served as an ex officio panel member of the Parliament's own Science and Technology Options Assessment unit (STOA) and was charged with liaising with national parliaments on behalf of the European Parliament.

There are currently 14 vice-presidency positions, four of which are now occupied by British MEPs. In the past it was usual for agreements to be struck between the groups when dividing up the posts which saw candidates elected without formal opposition. But this time it threatened to be different following the actions of Edward McMillan-Scott, another Vice-President who was selected as an ECR member but later crossed the floor to the ALDE group mid-mandate. Some reports suggested ALDE would consider fielding another candidate, but they appear to have decided against doing so allowing the ECR’s Chichester to be elected unopposed.

The Greek Socialist MEP Anni Podimata was also nominated unopposed to replace Stavros Lambrinidis, who has left the Parliament to become foreign minister of Greece.

(Quotes from audio produced by Quadrant for UK radio stations used with kind permission.)


The Record Europe: Watson & Farage clash over Commission’s plans for an EU FTT

Sunday, 3 July 2011
In this week’s edition of the BBC’s The Record Europe, UK MEPs Sir Graham Watson and Nigel Farage clashed over the European Commission’s proposal to introduce a tax on financial transactions (FTT) to raise money to finance the EU budget.

Once previously ruled out by the European Commission, South West MEP Sir Graham noted “there many of us were sceptical of the idea [of an FTT] when it was first launched but the more we look at it have begun to think this might not be a bad way of doing things”. Alluding to the five to eight months of “horse-trading” that goes on every five years between countries over who pays what to the budget, he said “if we are able to identify a tax that raises about the amount of money you need to run the thing, then why not go for it?”.

But UKIP leader Nigel Farage was quick to retort such suggestions, reminding that this is “the first occasion the EU is moving towards direct taxation” and that “they [Commission] want to raise money which is the basic function of the state”, before whipping out the nationalist card saying “there are many here in this place that hate Britain, hate the Anglo-Saxon culture, and those who openly say they want to attack the Anglo-Saxon culture and would love to see London hurt”.

The German MEP and co-head of the Green group Rebecca Harms was also part of the roundtable debate which can be seen in the video from 02:35 by clicking here or on the image above (viewable from Europe).


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.