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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EU must step up sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

Published on Tuesday 15th April 2014

Liberal Democrat MEP and Foreign Affairs Spokesman Sir Graham Watson has urged the EU to step up sanctions against Russia in order to de-escalate the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

Commenting, Sir Graham said:

"The lack of a firm response from the EU over the seizure of Crimea seems to have encouraged the Russian government to continue acting with impunity as it now seeks to destabilise Eastern Ukraine.

 

"The EU can now prove itself by increasing the number of people and entities to whom targeted sanctions apply and by speeding up the work of the European Commission in identifying potential economic sanctions.

 

"Failure to act now would have grave consequences not only for the stability and security of Ukraine, but for that of other countries in Russia's near abroad with significant Russian-speaking minorities.

Read more: EU must step up sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

Westcountry food products in line for EU funding to boost sales abroad

Published on Tuesday 15th April 2014

Westcountry products such as Cornish pasties, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar and Gloucestershire old spots pork have long been recognised by locals and people across the UK for their distinct flavours.

But now South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson says the Westcountry's speciality products that benefit from protected EU status could be winning over thousands of new customers around the world after a new EU funding programme was approved today in the European Parliament.

Gloucestershire perry, Fal oysters, Cornish clotted cream and Somerset cider brandy also feature on the list.

The new scheme will fund programmes to promote the high-quality agricultural products in Europe and in fast-growing economies around the world such as China and South Korea.

Read more: Westcountry food products in line for EU funding to boost sales abroad

MEPs vote to scrap mobile roaming charges across EU by December 2015

Published on Monday 7th April 2014

The European Parliament voted last week to scrap mobile roaming charges in the EU by December 2015.

Current EU caps on roaming charges have saved consumers across Europe an estimated £8bn since they were introduced in 2009, and new lower caps coming into force on 1 July 2014 will bring costs down even more.

Liberal Democrat MEPs successfully introduced changes that call for the charges to be abolished completely, including costly fees for data roaming in the EU which can reach up to £376 per gigabyte.

South West England Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson said:

"Ending rip-off roaming fees will mean people travelling in Europe will be able to use their phones just like they do at home, whether that's using maps, downloading apps or sharing photos online.

Read more: MEPs vote to scrap mobile roaming charges across EU by December 2015

Graham set to visit Gibraltar

Published on Monday 7th April 2014

Gibraltar and South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson will tomorrow evening (8 April) attend an event organised by supporters who want to see him re-elected to the European Parliament.

He will pay a courtesy call on the Acting Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia and will also be visiting the border area.

Sir Graham will also be on Main Street on Wednesday morning to meet and talk to as many constituents as possible.

He will be accompanied by the fellow candidate on the Liberal Democrat list for the Gibraltar and South West England constituency Lyana Armstrong-Emery as well as by friends and supporters of his campaign for re-election.

Read more: Graham set to visit Gibraltar

Gibraltar: Commission keep letter to Spain on frontier delays secret

Published on Monday 7th April 2014

Gibraltar Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson is appealing a decision from the European Commission refusing to publish a follow-up letter which was sent to Spain 'urging the country to improve the situation of persons crossing the border on a daily basis'.

The decision follows a freedom of information request tabled by Sir Graham Watson requesting that the letter sent to Spain on 19 December 2013 be made public.

However the European Commission have also confirmed their decision to keep the investigation into the frontier delays going – despite their announcement that they were going to close the case back on 6 December 2013.

Gibraltar Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson, who is currently preparing to travel down to Gibraltar for a visit this week, commented:

"The fact that the European Commission has changed tack and decided to keep the investigation open shows that they are not happy with progress so far.

Read more: Gibraltar: Commission keep letter to Spain on frontier delays secret

News broadcasting can help promote democracy and human rights

Published on Thursday 3rd April 2014

EU foreign policy should devise a media broadcasting strategy aimed at promoting freedom of expression, media pluralism and strengthening democracy and human rights, the European Parliament has said in a recommendation adopted yesterday (Wednesday 2 April).

Parliament encourages European media broadcasting internationally to ensure accurate and objective news coverage while maintaining editorial independence.

"Foreign policy is often thought of in terms of armies and diplomacy. But we should not underestimate the influence and reach of news broadcasting, especially in emerging democracies," said Sir Graham Watson (ALDE, UK), who drew up the resolution.

Read more: News broadcasting can help promote democracy and human rights

EU needs reform to become more transparent

Published on Wednesday 2nd April 2014

On Tuesday 1 April, a coalition of Members of the European Parliament committed to increasing the transparency of the decision-making process organised a seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels to look at ways of rebuilding trust between the EU institutions and its citizens, ahead of the European elections on 22-25 May.

"The unfortunate truth is that very little progress has been made in the thirteen years since Regulation 1049/01. It is essential that we increase momentum in our efforts to achieve a transparent European Union during the next mandate", said Sir Graham Watson MEP (ALDE), former Chairman of the LIBE committee when Regulation 1049/01 was negotiated.

"Over the last 5 years, I have seen that some institutions are more serious than others in ensuring a transparent way of legislating.

Read more: EU needs reform to become more transparent

Car industry says EU membership vital to its success

Published on Wednesday 2nd April 2014

Europe is fundamental to the success of the British car manufacturing according to a new report published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, a body which represents the UK automotive industry, and KPMG.

The report details how the EU is the industry's biggest export market, a global standard setter and has succeeded in opening up protectionist markets in India and China.

As one of the UK's auto manufacturing hubs, Swindon is host to the almost 3,000 strong Honda plant which makes 600 cars a day and a BMW MINI plant which employs approximately another thousand people and produces body pressings and sub-assemblies for the iconic car.

In Crewkerne in Somerset the Ariel Motor Company make the Atom racing car.

Read more: Car industry says EU membership vital to its success

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall restaurant wins EU funding Oscar

Published on Monday 31st March 2014

Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen in Watergate Bay near Newquay has won an award in what is being billed as the EU regional funding 'Oscars'.

The Cornish restaurant is being recognised for its work in training and creating jobs for disadvantaged young people at a ceremony being held today in Brussels. The European Commissioner for regional policy, Johannes Hahn, will be handing out the awards.

Fifteen was built in part with EU money and has received just over £2million (€2.

Read more: Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall restaurant wins EU funding Oscar

One in ten South West jobs associated to Britain’s EU membership

Published on Monday 31st March 2014

A report outlining that 4 million British jobs are now associated to Britain's membership of the European Union has been published today.

A report published by the think tank Centre for Economics and Business Research outlines that in the South West, there has been a 17% increase on the number of jobs linked to trade with Europe since 1997. According to the report, over 360,000, or 1 in 10, jobs are now associated to the UK's membership of the EU in the South West.

Overall the figures show that the number of jobs associated to the UK's membership of the EU has risen from over 3 million to 4.

Read more: One in ten South West jobs associated to Britain’s EU membership

North Somerset Tory MP Liam Fox should listen to big local employers

Published on Friday 28th March 2014

The day after Nick Clegg went head-to-head with Nigel Farage in the first ever in or out debate on the EU in London, South West England Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson took on Conservative North Somerset MP Liam Fox at a debate about the UK's future in the EU at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

The debate was part of a conference hosted by the College of Europe, one of the leading centres for the study of EU affairs and the backdrop for Margaret Thatcher's famous 1988 speech on the EU.

Sir Graham, who is based in Langport, commented after the debate:

"The Tories need to face up to the fact that by openly flirting with an EU exit - and promising an ill-fated renegotiation they cannot deliver - they are putting millions of jobs that depend on trade with the EU at risk."

"Just this week General Electric, who provide 650 local jobs at their oil and gas site in Nailsea right here in Somerset, came out and called on Britain to stay in the EU.

Read more: North Somerset Tory MP Liam Fox should listen to big local employers

South West schools and businesses to switch lights off for WWF's Earth Hour

Published on Wednesday 26th March 2014

This Saturday 29 March millions of people around the world will come together to switch off their lights for one hour as part of WWF's Earth Hour campaign.

Here in the South West local schools and businesses including Tate St Ives, the Princess Theatre in Torquay, countless of local Scouts and Brownies groups and many others will be taking part. South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson MEP is supporting the initiative and has also pledged to switch off his lights for an hour.

Last year, over 154 countries worldwide participated in the global Earth Hour lights out event.

Read more: South West schools and businesses to switch lights off for WWF's Earth Hour

Westcountry employer General Electric warns of EU exit

Published on Tuesday 25th March 2014

Manufacturing giant General Electric (GE) has joined a growing list of businesses calling on Britain to stay in the European Union.

General Electric employ 1600 people in Cheltenham in the aviation industry, as well as having offices in Gloucester and Tewkesbury. They also have a unit in Nailsea which provides 650 jobs in their oil and gas business, as well as a finance office in Bristol and a thermometrics unit in Taunton.

GE are the lastest firm to add their name to the growing list of major companies including other major regional employers such as Airbus and Honda who have warned of the dangers of Britain leaving the EU.

Read more: Westcountry employer General Electric warns of EU exit

Euro-MPs vote to end mobile roaming charges by end 2015 - despite Tory opposition

Published on Thursday 20th March 2014

Mobile roaming charges across the EU are set to be scrapped altogether by December 2015 following a vote in a European Parliament committee today.

This includes costly charges for using data abroad, which are currently capped at 37p per gigabyte in the EU.

However, South West Tory MEP Giles Chichester tabled an amendment that would have rejected the proposal altogether and kept the cost of using your mobile abroad sky high.

UKIP MEPs did not even turn up for the vote and have made it clear in the past that they oppose efforts to cut the costly fees.

Read more: Euro-MPs vote to end mobile roaming charges by end 2015 - despite Tory opposition

Sewage beach pollution crackdown thanks to new EU rules

Published on Thursday 20th March 2014

The Environment Agency has this week published a list of problem westcountry beaches that due to strict EU rules on sewage levels may be closed for bathing as of next year.

The beaches include Weston-super-Mare, Teignmouth, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe Wildersmouth, Lyme Regis and Porthluney Cove.

EU bathing water standards currently allow a maximum level of 48 faecal bacteria per teaspoon of seawater before a beach has to be closed. But that level of contamination is now thought to cause a significant number of stomach, ear and skin infections.

Read more: Sewage beach pollution crackdown thanks to new EU rules

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