La Treizième Étoile: 17/02/13 - 24/02/13 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
SW MEP and EP single seat campaigner appointed report author on its official seat

Saturday, 23 February 2013
South West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox has been chosen to spearhead the fight by MEPs to stop the Parliament's travelling circus of meetings switching between Brussels and Strasbourg.

Senior members of the Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee yesterday appointed Mr Fox, who is a vice-chair of that committee, as one of two rapporteurs on a report on the controversial issue of where the Parliament should sit.

In a rare move that signifies the important the Parliament attaches to the subject matter of the report, Mr Fox will share the task of drafting the report on the issue with a German Green MEP, Gerald Hafner.

Mr Fox has been a leading voice in the campaign for a single seat and his ‘Fox Amendment’ removed one of their monthly plenary sessions from the 2012 parliamentary calendar in a vote conducted in March 2011, which subsequently was (successfully) challenged by France before the European Court of Justice.

A series of votes by MEPs since then has reaffirmed the increasing majority of members in favour of scrapping the wasteful and costly twin-seat arrangement, although it is currently enshrined in the EU treaties.

In a statement on his website, Mr Fox said he was honoured to have been chosen to lead the work on this important report. “The Parliament will never claim any credibility for responsible handling of taxpayers' money until this waste is stopped,” he said. “Strasbourg was a symbol of peace when the EU was formed in 1958. Now it is a symbol of all that is wrong with Europe.

I want to build on the growing consensus in Parliament that we need to change the European treaties. I think the European Parliament should have one seat and that the European Parliament should decide where that is.

Ordinary members of the public find it incredible that we are locked into this ridiculous arrangement that MEPs cannot make their own decisions about where they meet and how much it costs the poor old taxpayer. Through authoring this report, I hope to help the Parliament steer the way to a saner way of doing things.

Further updates on the report's progress will follow in due course.


First reduced EU budget in 56 years is ‘good for the South West’ says Tory MEP

Thursday, 21 February 2013
Reflecting on the budget deal reached by European Union heads of states and governments at a Summit meeting on 7-8 February, Conservative MEP Ashley Fox says the “budget is by no means perfect, but it represents a sensible and pragmatic compromise” and “is good for the people of the South West”.

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Fox says “since the European Council agreed to cut the EU budget for the first time in 56 years, the European Parliament has been posturing and positioning itself to stand against the wishes of national governments […] I believe that the deal reached is good for the people of the South West. The overall EU budget will be cut by 3.4% in real terms, the first ever cut agreed.

Funding will continue for Cornwall, and a new category of funding will mean that Devon will now receive EU funds. Overall, the budget will have a greater focus on research and innovation, which will help create jobs and promote growth.

He also criticises the call by some (but not all) members of the European Parliament to vote on this budget deal in secret, describing the suggestion as “absurd”. Both the British Conservative and Liberal Democrats MEPs have criticised this move. “Taxpaying constituents have a right to know how their representatives in the EU vote on how their hard-earned money is spent […] I hope the European Parliament acts responsibly when it gets its say,he concludes.

Immediately after the negotiations concluded, Mr Fox praised his party leader and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, writing "Looks like a real terms cut in the EU budget over the next 7 years AND the UK rebate is untouched. Well done Prime Minister."


MEP asks Commission which country is legally responsible for control of fishing around Gibraltar

Sunday, 17 February 2013
Another MEP has submitted a Parliamentary question to the European Commission to try and extract a clear statement regarding the situation of marine conservation around Gibraltar. This time, it is the turn of British Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, a member of the Parliament’s Fisheries committee (PECH), who has asked the European Commission to state who it believes has legal responsibility for the waters around the Rock.

In his Parliamentary question (E-001631/2013), Mr Davies asked the Commission which country or countries were legally responsible for the supervision and control of fishing in the area “up to 5km from and around the coast of Gibraltar”? (That area roughly corresponds to the territorial waters claimed by Britain) Which country or countries were legally responsible for activities affecting the seabed? And what EU protected nature sites were located in this area and who was responsible for their management and protection?

It should take a few weeks for an answer to be received from the Commission.

Previously, in June 2012, the European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said both the United Kingdom and Spain must cooperate in their management of EU protected sites around the disputed Rock of Gibraltar and the governments should have informed each other about their intentions before designating nature sites in disputed territory and added that both sides had legal obligations to protect the designated site of specific cultural interest (SCI).

EU ‘has little choice but to seek to build good relations' with Communist China

Cooperation between Brussels and Beijing “has never been deeper” and the European Union “must hope that China’s planned reforms are a success” according to the region’s Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson.

Sir Graham, a member of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, has penned an article in the latest edition of the Parliament Magazine and says that “the EU, weakened by its economic stagnation, has little choice but to seek to build good relations with China, however unpalatable it finds some of the policies of the country’s ruling Communists.

Relations between the EU and Communist China have never been easy, but neither have they ever been as highly developed as today. Challenges of global importance, such as international trade and currency stability, world population growth and migration, climate change and energy security and even internationally organised crime make cooperation of interest to both sides.

The EU must hope pressure for reform within China leads to the creation of a society whose massive contribution to the development of human civilisation can be crowned by the introduction of humane and responsible policies in all areas of public life,” he writes. “Through the recently established EU-China political parties forum, dialogue between Europe’s political parties and China’s Communist party is regular and fruitful, as are the summits at heads of state and government level.

Last year saw two EU-China summits and there is new cooperation on energy and urbanisation. Mutual understanding has been considerably enhanced. The biggest problem remains the difficulty for understanding to develop into mutual respect.

Click here to read his article in full.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.