Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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Published on Tuesday 17th July 2012
Supporting Stranded Airline Passengers
Following the chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano eruption of 2010, Graham received dozenzs of letters and emails from constituents asking for information to help them recoup compensation that they were entitled to from airlines under EU regulation EC/261/2004. Several airlines refused to pay for accomodation and refreshments which are a legal right under EU law. Graham persued these cases via the national civil aviation authorities and the European Commission. After enough pressure was exerted, a number of Graham's constituents received compensation.
The Cornish Pasty
The Cornish Pasty Association approached Graham to assist with their application to protect this vital industry in the Westcountry, with the hope that pasty production would not only be secured in Cornwall, but that other firms would relocate to the Duchy. Graham took up the cudjules, exhibiting pasties in Stasbourg and even handing one to the President of the European Commission!
After continuing to lobby the Commission and gain extra public support in the region, at the beginning of 2011, the Cornish Pasty won its fight. So long as either the ingredients are sourced from Cornwall or the product is produced from within the boundaries of Cornwall, complete with a long crimped edge, they can be marketed as a Cornish Pasty.
Helping to Save Somerset Cider Brandy
Burrow Hill Cider firm in Stembridge, South Somerset, famously known for their Somerset Cider Bus at the Glastonbury music festival, approached Graham after their Cider Brandy product was left out of a EU directive which stipulated the types of spirits that could be marketed as apple brandy. Whilst the Portugese ensured Calvados was protected, the UK government and spirits industry failed to protect the famous Somerset tipple, threatening the viability of the business. Julian asked Graham, who's Langport base is within miles of the apple orchards that are used in Temperley's products, if something could be done to grant Somerset Cider Brandy protected status. Working alongside officials from the Department of Rural Affairs (DEFRA), officials within the European Commission and the European Council of Ministers in addition to the UK Wine and Spirits Association, a deal was reached to create an annex within the directive to allow Cider Brandy to be marketed as such.
In addition to this annex, Somerset Cider Brandy was granted PGI status in the summer of 2011, with Sir Graham celebrating the Westcountry drink at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference's South West reception to publicise the product.
Supporting a Local Haulage Firm Claim VAT
In 2010, Graham took up the issue of a Somerset based haulage firm who were owed £50,000 from various countries in VAT repayments.
Under EU law, a mechanism was set up to encourage national governments to process these repayments faster and more efficienctly in order to maintain a steady and healthy flow of money for small businesses who are entitled to claim back VAT in countries within the EU where they are not VAT registered.
The full story can be found at: http://www.grahamwatsonmep.org.uk/news/904-local-haulage-firm-owed-50-000