La Treizième Étoile: 25/03/12 - 01/04/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
Former ‘Bobby on the Beat’ MEP confirmed as member of Parliament’s special committee on Organised Crime in the EU

Saturday, 31 March 2012
Trevor Colman, one of the UKIP MEPs for the South West of England and Gibraltar, has been confirmed as a member of the European Parliament’s special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering in the EU after MEPs adopted the list of members in Brussels last week.

Mr Colman, who before becoming an MEP served as a policeman for more than 30 years and even advised on the scripts for the
TV crime series 'Wycliffe' that was set and filmed in Cornwall, is the sole member of the Committee representing the Non Attached members of the Parliament.

During the special committee’s 12-month mandate, Mr Colman and 44 other colleagues from across all the political groupings will evaluate the extent of organised crime's impact on the EU economy and society and recommend legislative and other measures to enable the EU to respond to these threats at international, European and national levels.

The committee will have the power to make on site visits and hold hearings with EU and national institutions from all over the world. MEPs may also invite testimonies from representatives of business and civil society and victims’ organisations, and officials, including judges, involved in the daily fight against organised crime, corruption and money laundering.

Italian Liberal MEP Sonia Alfano, the European Parliament's rapporteur on this issue, said the establishment of the anti-mafia committee at the European Parliament "
represents a real turning point in the history of European Union policies". "Finally", she said "Europe is sending a clear message to criminal organisations and gangs: the institutions are not going to back down in the face of organised crime".

In October 2011, the Parliament adopted a resolution by Ms Alfano on Organised Crime in the EU that recognised the large scale of operations in Europe and called on Member States to improve cooperation and coordination and to approximate their legislation in order do more to combat it.

Organised crime, the resolution says, "has a substantial social cost, in that it violates human rights, undermines democratic principles, diverts and wastes financial, human and other resources, distorting the free internal market, contaminating businesses and legitimate economic activities, encouraging corruption and polluting and destroying the environment."

"Although no comprehensive study exists," the resolution notes, "mafia-style criminal organisations operating in Europe have an impressively large turnover, particularly in the case of Italian organised crime groups, which […] are conservatively estimated to have revenues of at least EUR 135 billion, a figure which is higher than the combined GDP of 6 EU Member States".

The Committee will begin its work before the end of April 2012 and its mandate may be extended once.


UKIP MEP Colman urges all to sign petition to exempt air ambulances from paying VAT on fuel

Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Thousands of pounds paid straight into Treasury coffers in the form of VAT by the Air Ambulance service in the region should instead be kept to support its vital emergency work says Trevor Colman, one of the region’s UKIP MEPs.

Mr Colman is urging people to sign an online petition calling on the Government to change its rules on VAT, since “
unlike many other charities, our mercy service has to pay VAT on fuel.”

The air ambulance in the South West costs more than £4.5million a year to run and receives no financial aid from the Government. That other wonderful and life-saving charity, the Royal Lifeboat Institution, has been spared VAT on its fuel since 1977.

The Air Ambulance service is a tremendously important a live-saving one, particularly in our South West region which is not always the most accessible by road, so please do sign the online petition at:

If 100,000 people sign this petition the matter could be debated in Parliament.

UPDATE (29/03): The number of signatories to the petition has exceeded the 100,000 threshold. MEP Colman has issued a note of thanks.

UPDATE (31/03): The number of signatories is now more than 130,000! Excellent.


Gibraltar moves significant step closer to full UEFA football membership status

Sunday, 25 March 2012
Gibraltar's dream of competing in UEFA and European football club competitions received a significant boost on Wednesday night as their bid to become a member of UEFA was "discussed, and a road map which includes financial and educational support from UEFA" was agreed.

Gibraltar (in red) at the Island Games 2011 (Photo: Steve Menary/Play The GameThe Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) first applied to join UEFA in the late 1990s and this prompted the Spanish federation, the RFEF, to threaten to quit all international and club football competitions.

While a simply unthinkable prospect (Spain are the current World and European football champions and Real Madrid, Barcelona and others are playing football watched all over the world) UEFA took the threat seriously and changed its eligibility criteria so now all new members must be recognised by the United Nations.

As this switch was made after the application was submitted, the GFA appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has repeatedly upheld Gibraltar’s case. Leaked documents from the latest CAS ruling in August 2011 – which again ruled that UEFA must consider Gibraltar’s membership – revealed that it was assigned one of the lowest priorities since it was deemed ‘politically sensitive’. UEFA neither appealed against nor acknowledged this ruling but in January 2012 invited the GFA to its headquarters in Nyon. The two sides have been in negotiations since and today confirmed the details of a roadmap to membership.

As detailed in the roadmap, the GFA will organise (with UEFA’s co-operation) an international youth tournament in Gibraltar in October this year, in addition to staging UEFA refereeing courses for locally-registered referees. More investment will be made in grassroots football development on the Rock and the GFA will provide assistance with related governance issues.

Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar (Photo: koliri/PanoramioUEFA has also agreed to help improve the Victoria Stadium – left, Gibraltar’s only football ground which due to its location on a narrow and disputed isthmus between the Rock and Spain was the main reason for FIFA rejecting its membership application. The UK Ministry of Defence recently handed over a military sports field on the other side of the Rock to the Gibraltar government, and if further objections are made, the GFA now has the option to relocate to this site.

The GFA is excited about the prospect of working jointly and in collaboration with UEFA on these and other initiatives identified in the roadmap and leading to the full membership vote,” said the GFA in a statement.

Upon hearing the news, Conservative MEP Ashley Fox said “
I was delighted to read of the decision by the UEFA governing body to provide financial and educational support to Gibraltarian FA. I have no doubt that we will now hear howls of outrage from across the border as the Spanish threaten to boycott European Football, but if they do then let them.

We all know that the World Champions aren’t going to cut themselves off and exist in splendid football isolation. Gibraltar has the right to be represented in UEFA, and I hope that this week’s news will help achieve this goal,he said.

Six of Britain’s 14 remaining overseas territories are already members of FIFA, including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. In the meantime Gibraltar has competed against other outcast countries and is a member of the Federation of International Football Independents (
FIFI), an alternative to FIFA. In 2007, Gibraltar won the Island Games for the first time, defeating Rhodes 4–0.

The vote on Gibraltar’s application will be held at the May 2013 UEFA Congress in London, the host city of that year’s Champions League Final.

If accepted and Gibraltar becomes UEFA’s 54th member, it will nonetheless still be a long number of years before Manchester United (UK) find themselves lining up against Manchester United (Gibraltar) in the UEFA Champions League…


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.