La Treizième Étoile: 23/06/13 - 30/06/13 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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BIG NEWS: Devon, Cornwall and Somerset in line for £600m of EU Regional Funding

Saturday, 29 June 2013
The West Country is to receive more than £600 million of European Union funding between 2014 - 2020 to help create jobs and boost the regional economy.

The massive cash allocation – part of a £5.25 billion pot handed to England from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund – was announced this week by the UK Business Secretary Vince Cable. The figure represents a 5% cut to the previous six year spending round, broadly in line with the overall cut to the EU budget negotiated by national governments last month.

The money – which will need to be match-funded, potentially raising the total investment to £1.2 billion – will be managed by the local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) under the new EU Growth Programme which will run from 2014 to 2020.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is still classed as one of the poorest regions in Europe because its GDP remains less than 75 per cent of the EU average, has been allocated £510 million over the seven-year period - which is down from the £555 million figure that the counties will have received between 2007 and 2013.

The Heart of the South West LEP, which covers Devon and parts of Somerset, is to get £101 million, which has disappointed South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson who has described the amount as ‘loose change; compared to the amount allocated to neighbouring Cornwall: "While I welcome extra European investment in the county, it is regrettable that the figure was not higher. We expected that Devon would really benefit from the multi-billion allocation. Instead, we've been left with loose change,” he said.

However he welcomed the pot for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, adding: "Cornwall has lobbied hard to maintain its level of support and I am glad to see that has paid off. Over the last 10 years Cornwall has become better connected through superfast broadband, better skilled through the Combined Universities of Cornwall and seen more growth thanks to the help given to start-ups. This investment will help the county create a stronger economy and move economic output out of the capital and into our regions."

Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have been working together on the design of the next EU programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Cornwall has previously benefited from European Objective and Convergence programmes designed to create jobs and grow the local economy.

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Pomfret, chair of the LEP said “[The] announcement that funding will be ring fenced for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is good news, but the challenge now is to make sure that this investment is targeted in the right way and has the maximum impact in supporting businesses to grow and create jobs in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly.

Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Culture said: “Cornwall has an enviable track record in the delivery of EU programmes and has invested in great projects such as the Combined Universities in Cornwall, the roll out of SuperFast Broadband and Unlocking Cornish Potential.

"However, the Cornish economy has struggled during the current economic downturn and we need to make sure the next programme is designed and delivered by Cornwall for Cornwall, if it is going to support sustainable economic growth in our communities.

All allocations are subject to confirmation of the 2014/20 budget by the European Parliament.

Read also:
This time figures add up for Cornwall's EU funding gain (Cornish Guardian)

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British government protests 'in strongest possible terms' after jetski shooting incident in Gibraltar waters by Spanish Guardia Civil

The British Government have formal protested “in the strongest possible terms” after shots were reportedly fired by a Spanish Guardia Civil vessel at a jet skier in British waters around Gibraltar.

The UK Government’s Minister for Europe David Lidington said a Spanish officer fired a weapon during an "illegal incursion" on Sunday 23 June in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW), and had sought assurances from Spain that there would be no repeat of the incident. “I made clear that the discharge of a weapon in or near Gibraltar is completely unacceptable. I urged Señor Mendez de Vigo to investigate urgently and to take action to ensure that this will not happen again,” he said.

However, a spokesman for Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said no incident had taken place and no shot was fired dismissing it as ‘widespread rumours’.

The Daily Mail reports that the incident involved a chase by the Guardia Civil vessel which pursued a Gibraltarian jet ski into British Gibraltar territorial waters.

In an exclusive interview with the Olive Press, father-of-three Dale Villa revealed the terror of being chased by an armed police cruiser around the Bay of Gibraltar on Sunday evening at around 7pm.

In a joint statement, the three Conservative MEPs for the South West of England and Gibraltar Giles Chichester, Ashley Fox and Julie Girling said the Spanish provocation was “a form of international political posturing by a struggling government which hopes to distract attention from its domestic failures”.

For a shot to be fired will push to a new level the offence caused to the people of Gibraltar. This action is wholly illegal and as provocative as it is reckless. We wholeheartedly back the British Government's demand that Spain should explain its actions. We believe it should also apologise and offer a solemn assurance that there will be no repetition of such foolishness.

New dramatic footage emerged on Wednesday of the shooting incident at sea, was released by the Royal Gibraltar Police just hours after Spain denied the shooting. At least two gunshots can be heard on the video, below, which shows the Guardia Civil patrol boat 'Rio Cedeña' closing in on the jet ski off Western Beach.



Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo welcomed Britain’s strong protest but said the incident was “so serious” that he sidestepped normal diplomatic channels and directly contacted UK Prime Minister David Cameron to tell him that diplomacy had failed to put an end to Spanish incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters. “Diplomatic action to date appears to have had no material effect and I fear that Spain will not be deterred by yet another verbal protest no matter how robust,” he said in a lengthy letter according to the Gibraltar Chronicle.

It is understood that the UK Prime Minister "made a beeline" for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy soon after arriving at the European Council summit this week to demand an explanation for the incident. During the press conference after the summit, Mr Cameron said he wanted to make sure a full investigation took place and it was important that countries followed international law. "I think this is a totally unacceptable episode and I made that clear,” he said. “I think it is very important that people on Gibraltar know that we support them, we support their sovereignty. We need to find out more about what happened but from what I have heard... it is not acceptable."

SEE ALSO:
Gibraltar MEP raises Guardia Civil shooting incident at European Parliament (02/07)

UPDATE (03/07):
Minister for Europe David Lidington has told the House of Commons that Britain is still awaiting an explanation from Spain for the recent shooting incident in British Gibraltar territorial waters. Responding to a question from Labour MP David Crausby, he said: “We have made clear that the discharge of a weapon in Gibraltar is completely unacceptable. We are urgently seeking a full explanation from Spain.

UPDATE (30/07):
Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Warsi, has described this incident as "a serious violation of British sovereignty" in a written response to a question by a fellow member of the House of Lords. "It is rare for such incursions to pose a significant risk to life [...] We have protested to the Government of Spain in the strongest terms and have made clear that such behaviour must not be repeated," she said.

UPDATE (02/08):
The UKIP MEP the Earl of Dartmouth has also issued a statement in which he says his "party deplores the puerile and politically immature recent actions of the Spanish government towards the independent and proudly British people of Gibraltar" and calls for the UK to send in the Navy. "The UK government must provide adequate Naval defences to Gibraltar to prevent further harassment until such time as Spain is mature enough to accept Gibraltars right to self determination and ends it's policy of harassment," it reads.

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Devon-based organisation tasked by UK PM to clean up the internet could run out of EU money by next year - MEP

Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Senior South West MEP Sir Graham Watson has discovered that the major body tasked with tackling child pornography and indecent images on the web by Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller just last week is funded by an EU programme that is due to have its budget slashed.

The UK's Safer Internet Centre, based in Exeter, Devon, has received £1.4 million pounds of EU funding under the safer internet programme, but this could run out by next year according to figures from the European Commission. The digital networks budget for the EU's Connecting Europe Facility has been reduced from €9 billion to €1 billion, but the number of projects in need of funding remains the same.

Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham has now launched a campaign - and tabled amendments in the European Parliament - to give the Internet Watch Foundation and related organisations the best possible chance of maintaining their funding.

"The shameful fact is that unless action is taken, the outlook is bleak for the organisations tasked just last week with tackling online child pornography, including the UK’s hotline for reporting online child abuse,” said Sir Graham.

"This is a blow to the Tories' claim to be tough on crime, and shows a desperate lack of awareness about where the money for some of these services comes from."

"I am now in contact with the UK Safer Internet Centre to see what can be done to safeguard their funding and ensure that their vital work can continue. However, we face a difficult battle in the months to come. Maria Miller says she is personally committed to tackling child pornography. I hope she now realises this commitment has to extend to negotiations in Brussels."

The Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, David Wright, said: "The UK Safer Internet Centre strongly supports the amendment tabled by Sir Graham Watson to include the Safer Internet Centre programme as a priority for funding and we hope the Government will fight to secure our future."

(from press release)

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South West MEP Julie Girling misses out on an MEP Award once again...

South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling has missed out on an MEP Award after being shortlisted for the second year running.

This year she was recognised for her work on EU Environmental policy, but in 2012 she was nominated by EU policy stakeholders for making an excellent contribution in the domain of animal welfare, but missed out on the award then to Danish MEP Dan Jørgenson, who is President of the European Parliament Intergroup for the welfare of animals...

This time around, Mrs Girling's chances of winning were seemingly greatly improved since there were no EPP or S&D nominees in the final shortlist for the Environment award (they are the two largest political parties and thus voting blocks). But sadly her work was not to be rewarded.

The 2013 Environment award was given to Bulgarian Liberal MEP Vladko Panayotov.

Mrs Girling is a member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee and in the nominations was praised for her "calm, measured and insightful contributions" to debates and her efforts to subject legislation to "the highest level of scrutiny and analysis".

The MEP Awards are organised annually by the Parliament Magazine and the shortlists were produced after stakeholders nominate MEPs in each policy area. Once the shortlists were announced, voting was conducted by MEPs to determine the final winners.

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THURSDAY 22 MAY 2014


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