La Treizième Étoile: 20/01/13 - 27/01/13 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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How our South West MEPs reacted to David Cameron’s long-awaited EU speech

Thursday, 24 January 2013
And so Prime Minister and Conservative leader David Cameron has at last made his long-awaited speech outlining his vision of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.

On Wednesday morning at the symbolically-chosen venue of the office of American Bloomberg news agency in Central London, Mr Cameron delivered his 45-minute speech, the headline being he will negotiate towards repatriation of powers and put that deal to the British public in an ‘in/out’ referendum if the Conservative party win the next general election.

There has been no shortage of comment and analysis on the speech and its contents from all sides and parties with the Conservatives broadly welcoming it and the Liberal Democrats and Labour warning it will create years of uncertainty for businesses and hamper moves towards economic growth and job creation.

The thoughts of Westcountry MPs have been collated by regional media, and the BBC has even been to the South West’s largest city Bristol – a city proud of its European heritage – to conduct a vox pop gauging the views of locals, but what do our region’s elected MEPs think?

Conservative Julie Girling has hailed the PM’s speech as a “positive step towards EU reform”. Speaking directly after the speech, she said: “The country now knows that they have the opportunity to have their say on the future of Britain's relationship with the European Union.

David Cameron raised five key points, competitiveness, flexibility, greater power for Member States, Democratic accountability and fairness all of which are key challenges to the future of the EU and will be key to the debates which will happen between now and 2015.

The EU needs fundamental change based on new principles that enable it to compete globally. Now the people will have their say. The EU was designed to address the problems of my parents' generation and my generation, now we must focus on the challenges of our children and grandchildren's generations."

Similarly, her Conservative colleague Ashley Fox congratulated Mr Cameron for “setting out a clear vision of what Britain’s future relationship with the European Union should be, and committing to putting the final say on our membership to the British public.

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Fox said: “I want to see the Conservative Party go into the 2015 General Election on the clear promise to renegotiate our membership with the EU. Once these negotiations have been completed, the new membership proposals should be put to the British people in a referendum. The question will be whether the British people want to remain within the EU on the new terms, or whether they would prefer to leave?

I believe that there are economic benefits in remaining part of the Single Market. It allows British businesses to trade freely across the EU and it creates jobs and prosperity for UK PLC. At the moment this economic freedom goes hand in hand with a political programme that the British public have never voted to be a part of,” he added.

“In particular, I want the UK to opt out of social and employment legislation and to claw back control over justice and home affairs. I am sure that readers may well have other suggestions for what other powers need to be repatriated.”

However, Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson was less positive, warning that the tactics will lead to years of uncertainty for businesses looking to invest in the country. He said: “The Prime Minister raises some valid points, but too often his criticisms are old and out of date and his attacks are aimed at Aunt Sallies which he has set up. Moreover, his suggestion that the EU has no ‘demos’ shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the last 20 years of European history.

My main concern is that this speech will sow doubts into the minds of multi-national investors on whom so many UK jobs rely. David Cameron’s vision of Europe is rather like Boeing’s Dreamliner. Looks great, sounds great, but once you try to use it you find there are hidden safety problems.

UKIP MEP Trevor Colman took part in a Live Google Hangout hosted by his own ThEUnit website, which has been recorded and is available to view here. He said: "I think the message today from David Cameron was simple: that you the British public have been kept at arms length as far as the European Union is concerned for the last 40 years and you're going to be kept at arms length for the next five years and then you may, possibly, at the end of those five years have a referendum."

"I think it was a disgraceful speech by Cameron where he was rubbing the noses of the British people in it and saying you are not going to be involved in it."

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Tory MEP repeats attack on party leader and PM over his stance on gay marriage

Sunday, 20 January 2013
Conservative MEP Giles Chichester made an appearance in today’s BBC Politics Show SW in which he repeated his attack on his party leader and current Prime Minister David Cameron for his stance on gay marriage which he believes is alienating the party’s grassroots.

"I am very disappointed that David Cameron, and I think it is personal, has chosen to take this initiative. It was not in the manifesto and there is no great call for it," he said. "I support equal rights for gay couples and that has been legislated for already, but if it ain’t broke why fix it?"

This echoes the message he delivered in an open letter earlier this month in which he said the party’s grassroot members will ignore his call to “stop complaining” so long as Government policies depart from promises made in the Conservative manifesto to support families and marriage.

An audio recording of the package can be listened to below:


MEP asks if new EU tobacco trade rules discriminates against residents of Campo de Gibraltar

Liberal Democrat MEP for Gibraltar Sir Graham Watson has this week tabled an urgent parliamentary question to the European Commission following the revelations that Spanish authorities are restricting the import of cigarettes across the frontier from Gibraltar.

The new rules mean that persons living within a radius of 15 kilometres from the border, will only be allowed to bring 80 cigarettes across the border instead of 200 cigarettes per month.

In his urgent question (E-000427/2013), Sir Graham has asked the Commission to investigate whether or not implementing such a restriction to a specific geographic area discriminates against the residents of Campo de Gibraltar.

"It seems to be one rule for the area around Gibraltar containing a sizeable British community and one rule for other autonomous areas such as Andorra where you are entitled to bring 300 cigarettes a month across the border. In my opinion such a measure rides roughshod over the rights of residents in the area and I have asked the Commission as a matter of urgency to investigate the matter,he said.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.