La Treizième Étoile: 24/11/13 - 01/12/13 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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MEP compares Spain to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe as diplomatic bag reportedly opened at Gibraltar border

Wednesday, 27 November 2013
The British Foreign Office has demanded an urgent explanation after a British diplomatic bag was reportedly opened and searched by Spanish Guardia Civil officers on the border with Gibraltar.

The incident, which took place on Friday according to the Gibraltar Chronicle, has been described by a Foreign Office spokesman as a “serious infringement” of international diplomatic protocols. It is understood the bag was leaving Gibraltar but no other details have been released.

Diplomatic bags, which are used to carry documents and other items, between governments and their diplomatic missions abroad are protected by Article 27 of the 1961 Vienna Convention which asserts that diplomatic bags have immunity from search or seizure.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “As far as we are concerned there is no justification for this infringement of the UK’s rights under the Vienna Convention. Official correspondence and diplomatic bags are inviolable.

This was a serious infringement of the principles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. There are long-established and internationally-accepted articles concerning official correspondence and the diplomatic bag to which the FCO adheres. We expect other parties to the Convention, including EU and Nato allies, to do the same.

Spain has denied that its officers had opened any diplomatic bag. Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the country’s foreign minister has played down the incident and insisted the bags, which had been dispatched by the Office of the Governor of Gibraltar, “were not technically diplomatic bags”. Quoted by the Daily Telegraph, he said: “As such there is neither a diplomatic bag nor an incident. If it is not a diplomatic bag, there is no diplomatic incident. A mailbag was opened, which is not a diplomatic bag in accordance with article 27 of the Vienna Convention.

UKIP MEP William, the Earl of Dartmouth, has demanded firm action from the Government: “this is a disgraceful and provocative act that must be roundly condemned by anybody who believes in the rule of law and proper international diplomatic practice. It is clear to me that the failure of the European Union to take this issue seriously when the reported on the border problems between Spain and Gibraltar a few weeks ago has obviously be regarded by the Spanish Authorities as a green light for further misbehaviour.

The British Government need to act, and act fast with all diplomatic means at their disposal to ensure that such appalling behaviour is not repeated. The last time a British diplomatic bag was opened in this way was by Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, is that really the company Madrid wishes to keep?


MEP regrets but understands RWE decision to pull out of Atlantic Array project

Sunday, 24 November 2013
Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has today expressed his regret at the decision taken by RWE Power to pull out of the Atlantic Array projectdue to technical challenges making the project uneconomic at current time”.

With a planned 1.5 gigawatt capacity, it would have been one of the world's largest offshore wind farms. In January 2012, the South West was named as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park, firmly placing the region on the international map for leadership in marine renewable energy. The South West Marine Energy Park stretches from Bristol all the way along down to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

In a statement, Sir Graham said: "I regret the decision made by RWE made today. Particularly given the potential of utilising the Bristol Channel to power hundreds of thousands of homes with clean energy. It is also deeply regrettable that North Devon will not see the major investment and potential jobs that came attached with the Atlantic Array.

"But I understand the reasons behind RWE power's decision, given the complexity of the terrain and the need to make the site financially viable. I hope that we will see renewable energy investment into the channel soon to help bring down energy bills and move away from fossil fuels to clean energy. I also wish to see a level playing field for the renewable energy sector similar to that of other sources of energy."

Paul Cowling, the Director of Offshore Wind at RWE Innogy, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, however given the technological challenges and market conditions, now is not the right time for RWE to continue to progress with this project […] we are very grateful for the support we have received from the many interested parties involved in helping us to develop the Atlantic Array project, however the commercial reality means that in the current market conditions, overcoming the technical challenges within The Bristol Channel Zone would be uneconomic for RWE at this time.

See also:
MEP welcomes £2m Atlantic Array wind farm investment for Devon businesses (24/03)


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