La Treizième Étoile: 01/07/12 - 08/07/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
Gibraltar simply not an issue for Spaniards, leading think tank poll confirms

Friday, 6 July 2012
An interesting opinion poll in Spain is making headlines despite the fact it confirms what has been said for a long time, namely: Gibraltar is simply not an issue for Spaniards.

Carried out by the highly regarded Spanish think tank Real Instituto Elcano, the survey of 1000 people found that nearly 60% of those polled believe Gibraltar is of little or no importance to Spanish foreign policy.

The survey also found that Spaniards were divided on how their government should handle the current row over fishing in Gibraltar waters: over 44% of those asked said steps should be taken to reduce the tension, while 10% said more diplomatic pressure should be brought to be on Gibraltar.

As expected in such a poll on such a subject, the answers were clearly dependent on the political ideology of the respondent. For supporters of the governing right-wing
Partido Popular, 50% believe that the dispute over Gibraltar is quite or very important in Spain’s foreign policy, but this percentage drops to 32% amongst voters of the centre and dips even lower to 30 per cent amongst those on the left.

The Partido Popular party won the last elections in Spain with a manifesto that included a sentence on Gibraltar: “En relación al contencioso de Gibraltar, recuperaremos el proceso de Bruselas” (Translation: ‘In relations to Gibraltar, we will return to the Brussels process’). This intention – to return to a negotiation arrangement long rejected by Gibraltar as it concerns talks on sovereignty without giving them a voice - has been affirmed on repeated occasions but rejected immediately by the Gibraltarian government.

The Spanish government should be far more concerned with its soaring levels of unemployment and the frightening statistic that the country’s youth unemployment is now more than 50%.

Revealed: why the Green Capital jury team opted against Bristol for the 2014 award

Tuesday, 3 July 2012
As we learned on Friday, Bristol was again unsuccessful in its attempts to be crowned European Green Capital, losing out in the 2014 race to Danish Capital Copenhagen.

Rather helpfully and encouragingly transparently, the European Commission's Environment department has published a document today that outlines the conclusions of the jury in its deliberations and its opinions on all three finalists, offering a useful and informative insight behind their decision.

This is what the jury concluded for the Bristol bid:

"Bristol impressed the Jury with its ambitious green sustainable vision, and with a variety of urban networks including NGOs, local business, academia and volunteers that are joining together to enhance and promote green growth. Bristol Green Capital Partnership is based on community ownership and involves over 200 organisations; its aim is to do more with less. Over 1,000 volunteers have been recruited to work on green projects over the last six month period alone.

Bristol’s tag line “Inspiring Change” is very appropriate in terms of links with digital media. The city is “Green-Smart-Connected”, showing a recent 70% increase in wireless technology efficiency and partnerships with leading technology companies to promote energy efficiency; connected with more than 95,000 citizens who have participated in “E-petitions” and online discussion forum as part of Bristol "E-democracy".

Bristol has clearly demonstrated its cutting edge commitment to reducing climate change since 2000. This commitment was strengthened in 2009 when Bristol joined the Covenant of Mayors and set more ambitious CO2 reduction targets than the EU and UK, to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 from a 2005 baseline. Bristol energy network is mobilising the whole city, together with initiatives such as Low Carbon Southwest to create a low carbon economy in the city. In addition, Bristol's policy on clean air and noise is commendable: the city has one of the most comprehensive air quality monitoring networks in the UK and has plans to manage transport to improve air quality and reduce noise. This could be a good opportunity for Bristol to be even more proactive with its commuters. Indeed the effects of these green policies are obvious for the city itself but seem less substantial at the level of the region. Regional integration could be reinforced.

The city offers a number of examples where it can act as a role model to cities across Europe. For example there is a local food growing initiative in place which includes community gardening. Moreover Bristol intends to connect with the other seventeen EGCA 2014 applicant cities as a platform for best practice across Europe as part of the "Community Sparkplugs" initiative.
In conclusion: (emphasis added by me)

"The Jury underlined that Bristol had made major advances, and dramatically improved its sustainable urban development over the past decades. But further improvements could still be made, especially in areas such as water consumption. It could also do more to ensure that its actions have a wider impact on the broader region outside the city."

The document reveals that the jury came to the final conclusion that Copenhagen is "is a highly successful role model for the green economy, with an efficient communication strategy and the commitment required to develop its role as a model for Europe and beyond.".

The competition for the 2015 Green Capital title opened last week and I'm sure in the future Bristol will try to win, at the third attempt. But in light of the jury's comments it may be worth holding off a submission for a couple of years. Judging by the jury's comments and recent tweet (below), there is one thing for sure: Bristol has a strong position and is certainly moving in the right direction.

UPDATE: 10/07
In their most recent newsletter, the Bristol Green Capital Bid team have announced they will discuss whether to enter the competition for a third time in this coming cycle at the next Momentum Group meeting to be held on 17th July. More information and registration details can be found here.

Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.