La Treizième Étoile: 10/06/12 - 17/06/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
Knight between rook and a hard place as MEP takes chess campaign to local school

Saturday, 16 June 2012
Sir Graham Watson MEP plays chess against students from Colston’s Primary School, Bristol (Photo: Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson yesterday challenged some youngsters at Colston’s Primary School in Bristol to a game of chess in a bid to promote the inclusion of such strategic games into the national curriculum.

Sir Graham, knighted last year in the Queen’s birthday honours list, supports the initiative of chess Grandmaster Gary Kasparov’s foundation to encourage more students to play the game in schools and welcomed him to the European Parliament in February.

Ahead of yesterday’s event organised by Chess in Schools who organise chess tournaments and events in schools to promote the game, Sir Graham commented: “
chess improves concentration skills, teaches pupils to take responsibility for their decisions and teaches problem solving. I am very pleased to be taking Gary Kasparov’s initiative to the South West and I will contact Mr Kasparov to see if he would be able to visit one of these events in the future.

As for the result of the match-ups, and whether Sir Graham was defeated, the organiser was tight-lipped (amusingly):

Well played sir!

Photo: hosted on
Headline: adapted from press release (so I can't even take credit for its witticism!)


Spain to take Gibraltar sovereignty case to the UN in bid to reinitiate Brussels process

Thursday, 14 June 2012
Fernando Arias Gonzalez, Spain's Ambassador to the UN, will reportedly this week present a report to the United Nations’ Committee of 24 (Special Committee on Decolonisation) in which Spain will reiterate its claims over the sovereignty of the Rock of Gibraltar and again call for the United Kingdom to reopen talks under the Brussels process.

The move comes amid mounting diplomatic tensions between the two countries over the disputed territory, with both sides making bold statements in recent days to change the status quo.

Last week Spain lodged a formal complaint to the European Union stating that Gibraltar's new corporate tax laws constitute a form of state aid (not permitted under EU law), and Gibraltar – to mark the occasion of HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – projected a massive image of the Queen beside a Union flag on the north face of the emblematic Rock so was clearly visible over the border (see left). Last week also saw the visit of Prince Edward and his wife the Countess of Wessex which culminated in the ceremonial and highly symbolic gift of a set of replica keys the City and Garrison of Gibraltar which the Chief Minister said “will be forever British in perpetuity”.

The Spanish want a return to the Brussels Agreement, a negotiation arrangement dating back to 1984 when, for the first time, a British government agreed to discuss Gibraltar's sovereignty with Spain, and is an arrangement long rejected by Gibraltar as it concerns talks on sovereignty without giving them a voice. It is a far cry from the current Tripartite Forum where Gibraltar has its own voice, a veto, and where all three parties are of equal voice.

This evening, the Gibraltar Panorama reports that Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia are on their way to the United Nations in New York where the the Chief Minister will address the UN Committee of 24 tomorrow.

In a not too dissimilar situation 7,000 miles away, Argentina’s attempt to step up pressure over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (UK) at the United Nations were dealt a blow when it was announced a referendum will be held 2013 in bid to settle sovereignty dispute. The referendum would be similar to the poll carried out in Gibraltar in 2002 when the idea of Britain sharing sovereignty with Spain was rejected by a massive 98.5 percent of the population. As they maintain in statements regarding the Gibraltar situation, both Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague have defended the right of Falkland Islanders to self-determination.

SW MEP unsurprisingly lands new role as Conservative spokesperson on agriculture

Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Julie Girling on Exmoor (Photo: Julie Girlin/Facebook)South West MEP Julie Girling has been appointed the new UK Conservative MEP spokesperson for agricultural issues, in a move that is remarkably unsurprising and politically sensible.

Mrs Girling became a full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee in January, and since agriculture is a fundamental industry in the region of picturesque landscape of rolling hills and fields, it comes as little surprise that she beat off competition from the only other Conservative full member of the Committee James Nicholson (Northern Ireland) to land the role.

Following confirmation of the news, Mrs Girling said: “Many people know of my longstanding interest in agriculture and the work I have been doing in the South West."

Not only do I now speak on behalf of the South West, but I am fighting the UK’s corner to ensure a fair deal for farmers, consumers, taxpayers and the environment. This means being pro-active and engaged with both the UK Government and the EU, negotiating when necessary and working with colleagues such as Jim Paice MP and Neil Parish MP to get the best out of Europe for the UK," she said.


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