La Treizième Étoile: 19/05/13 - 26/05/13 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
UK 'can expect to benefit hugely if a comprehensive EU-USA free trade agreement can be negotiated' says Conservative MEP

Friday, 24 May 2013
Britain can expect to benefit hugely if a comprehensive free trade agreement can be negotiated between the European Union and the USA” – those are the words of South West MEP Ashley Fox, who belongs to the Conservative party whose MPs back in Westminster seem determined to badmouth and drive the UK towards the EU exit door.

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Fox today wrote: “Yesterday the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on the largest bilateral trade deal in history. This deal would not only boost exports in key sectors such as motor-manufacturing, but it would also make Britain a potential magnet for inward investment from America, a win-win for UK plc.

I am a long-standing supporter of free trade and for the UK alone national income could see an increase of between £4-10 billion annually - an increase of up to 0.35 per cent in gross domestic product. The sector to benefit most from an ambitious deal covering non-tariff barriers would be the car industry, which would see an increase in exports of between 1.7% and 7.3%. This would be a huge boost to firms which employ thousands of people in the UK.

The EU Commission estimates that a comprehensive deal with the US would benefit the EU to the tune of €120bn. This could mean an extra £400 a year in disposable income to the average British family.

The opportunity is immense, which is why we need to have the most open approach possible to negotiations at this stage. No red lines, no restrictions, nothing off limits.

It is worth recalling that such a deal would not be on the table for the UK on its own, so EU membership isn’t perhaps such a bad thing after all…

Such is the difference in opinion of Mr Fox to his party that one user has commented: “Is this [an] EU-funded PR?"...


BIG NEWS - After a long 14-year battle, Gibraltar finally admitted as a full member of UEFA, Europe's football governing body

After a long 14-year battle prolongued due to Spanish claims over sovereignty of the Rock, the Gibraltar Football Association has been admitted as a full member of European Football's governing body, UEFA. The UEFA President Michel Platini made the announcement following the vote by hand of delegates during the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress in London.

The positive vote by delegates was overwhelming so there was no need for a formal count. Of course Spain, long term objectors, voted to reject the application, although they declined to make the vote an electronic one thus enabling a vote by hand.

Gibraltar's football teams can now compete in European competitions and the national team can begin thinking about participating in the forthcoming qualification rounds for the next European Championship.

The UEFA President Michel Platini confirmed that Gibraltar would be kept apart from Spain in qualifying for Euro 2016, saying: "Gibraltar will not play qualifying matches with Spain - we also have this situation with Armenia and Azerbaijan".

Gibraltar first tried to join UEFA in 2007 but the bid was rejected as only three countries supported the move (England, Scotland and Wales) and Spain opposed it rigorously and threatened to boycott both club and international competitions if it succeeded.

The Rock has now become the smallest UEFA member in terms of population, behind San Marino (just over 32,000), Liechtenstein (approximately 37,000) and the Faroe Islands (just under 50,000).

In reaction to the positive result, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo said: "Today is a historic day for sport in Gibraltar. All of Gibraltar will be filled with joy at the GFA's success. Most of us will remember forever where we were when we heard this decision come through."

"The decision by UEFA members to admit Gibraltar into the European football family of nations is long overdue. When sports and politics are mixed they produce a toxic cocktail that should be avoided. And today UEFA have looked beyond those who would bring politics into European sport to reach the right conclusion for UEFA, for football, the GFA and for Gibraltar."

The Minister for Sport Steven Linares added: “Gibraltar has waited for many years for the good news of our admission into UEFA. There is no doubt that membership of UEFA will provide a huge boost to football in Gibraltar and this will be seen among the younger generation of Gibraltarians who will now have the opportunity to pitch their skills against those of their European counterparts.

Gibraltar MEP Sir Graham Watson tweeted: Fellow South West MEP Julie Girling later tweeted her congratulations and Ashley Fox expressed his delight on his Facebook profile.

The Minister for Europe, David Lidington, was 'delighted' by the news, tweeting: "Congratulations #Gibraltar on joining UEFA! Pleased UEFA agreed Gib FA’s full membership today #sportnotpolitics".

Gibraltar Football Association president Gareth Latin hailed the vote a "a momentous occasion for football in Gibraltar. UEFA membership means we can begin the next chapter of Gibraltarian football."

The Governor of Gibraltar, Sir Adrian Johns, said in a statement: "I welcome the fantastic news that the Gibraltar FA has finally been admitted to UEFA. It has been a monumental effort by Team 54 and their supporters. For 120 years football has been an important part of life in Gibraltar for young and old alike and this is a big step in promoting further sporting development. Visiting footballers and fans will receive the warmest of welcomes in Gibraltar and an opportunity to share in Gibraltar’s passion for the sport."

Congratulations to the GFA and all involved in the efforts over the years.

Some selected other tweets:

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SW MEP to join Bristol presentation team for Bristol's EU Green Capital 2015 bid

Thursday, 23 May 2013
South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson will tomorrow welcome a delegation from the city of Bristol to Brussels and participate in the city’s pitch before judges to decide who will be crowned European Green Capital 2015.

Sir Graham was part of the bid's presentation last year following the city's shortlisting and is hoping to go one step better this year and take the prize. The bid team, led by Bristol’s Mayor George Ferguson, left for Brussels earlier this afternoon.

The capital of the West Country has made the final shortlist for the European Green Capital award for the second year running and in its third attempt. In the final shortlist for the 2015 award, Bristol will face off against two European Capital cities: Brussels and Ljubljana, as well as Scotland’s largest city Glasgow.

Once again it is a great pleasure to join the Bristol Green Capital team to make our pitch for the European Green Capital prize,Sir Graham said.

Bristol is making enormous progress in its green agenda, particularly in the areas of air pollution and waste management. The private and public sector partnership that has been formed in the city is an example that with enough will, adapting our economy and society to reducing our carbon footprint is possible. A win would be a testament to the hard work put in by private enterprises, the city council and environment campaigners.

"Becoming a green capital will also put Bristol on the European stage as a place for economic investment when it comes to the ever expanding green industry."

After sensationally reaching the final shortlist for the 2014 award and learning they had lost out for the second time last June, the bid team revealed last July they had submitted another application for the 2015 award and beat off competition from Bydgoszcz, Dublin and Kaunas to make the shortlist.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.