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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"End to school milk scheme a double blow for West children and farmers" - Watson

Published on Wednesday 11th January 2006

Commenting on recent reports that the Government is considering ending the subsidised milk scheme which provides affordable milk to more than 40,000 school-age children, Lib Dem Euro-MP Graham Watson said:

"School milk is well subsidised by the EU to the tune of £6million every year. The amount the Government will save by ending milk for children is only a quarter of the amount which will be lost from the EU. Not only will this harm the long term health of young children who learn good eating and nutrition habits in the school environment, but is a greater burden for the West's dairy farmers already struggling to cope with poor prices".

Concerned by the poor take up of school milk in his South West constituency and active over many years on the issue, Graham Watson took up the case most recently in 2004, writing to both the European Commission and Lord Whitty at Defra.

Read more: "End to school milk scheme a double blow for West children and farmers" - Watson

Austrian Presidency urged to take three concrete steps in EU budget, transparency and citizen's rights

Published on Wednesday 11th January 2006

Liberal and Democrat Members of the European Parliament will meet Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel this afternoon in Vienna in order to discuss the Austrian Presidency priorities. ALDE leader Graham WATSON will urge the Austrian Prime Minister to take three concrete actions regarding the EU budget, Council transparency and the rights of EU citizens.

"First and foremost, I urge the Austrian Presidency to show flexibility on the Financial Perspectives agreement. The deal reached last December under the UK Presidency does not give the EU the resources it needs.

Read more: Austrian Presidency urged to take three concrete steps in EU budget, transparency and citizen's rights

How to close Europe's communication gap?

Published on Tuesday 10th January 2006

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament organized today a seminar on the subject of communicating Europe to its 460 million citizens.

ALDE group leader Graham WATSON opened the debate by highlighting the failure of institutions to involve and engage public opinion over a number of years. "Never mind that Europe has enjoyed sixty years of peace and unprecedented prosperity or that it is building an internal market which delivers more jobs and greater choice for all our citizens. The European debate is still seen through the lens of distorted debate, where bendy bananas, curved cucumbers and chunky carrots get more media time than parliamentary debate and where daft directives, like regulating exposure to sunlight, get more column inches than life-enhancing legislation", he said.

Read more: How to close Europe's communication gap?

Bronislaw Geremek, President of the Jean Monnet Foundation: "ALDE is proud" says Graham Watson

Published on Tuesday 20th December 2005

Graham WATSON, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe congratulated today the nomination of Bronislaw GEREMEK (Partia Demokratyczna, Pologne) as President of the Jean Monnet Foundation. "It is a source of pride for our group to welcome personalities of such European dimension as the Professor Geremek", declared Graham Watson.

Mr Geremek will be the successor of Professor Henri Rieben who was appointed by Jean Monnet in 1978. Former Foreign Affairs Minister of Poland, Bronislaw Geremek is since June 2004, an active Member of the European Parliament within the ALDE group.

Read more: Bronislaw Geremek, President of the Jean Monnet Foundation: "ALDE is proud" says Graham Watson

Blair gets a B minus for his EU Presidency

Published on Tuesday 20th December 2005

Graham Watson, Leader of the Liberal and Democrat Group in the European Parliament voiced criticism of Blair's 6 month Presidency despite having secured a last minute budget deal to plaster over the cracks.

"Mr. Blair raised EU expectations in June but has failed to capitalise on them. However, like many of his fellow Heads of State and Government, he has failed to use his six months at the helm to tackle, head-on, the sceptics and cynics who are quick to deride and misrepresent the EU.

Read more: Blair gets a B minus for his EU Presidency

WTO a replica of EU budget talks

Published on Tuesday 20th December 2005

Last-minute brinkmanship, too many conflicting interests, public squabbling, lack of solidarity, low level of ambition - these were some of the characteristics summarising the EU budget talks last Friday but they also characterise the WTO discussions in Hong Kong which concluded yesterday on a decidedly mixed note.

Graham Watson MEP, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, declared: "As with the face-saving agreement last Friday on the EU budget, the Hong Kong ministerial has achieved just enough to avoid a crisis of confidence in the World Trade body. The fundamental problem is that the EU has not yet decided which way to jump when faced with the challenges of globalisation. Some still want a Europe with the drawbridge pulled up.

Read more: WTO a replica of EU budget talks

Europe's Leaders reach budget deal but must show more vision

Published on Saturday 17th December 2005

Graham Watson MEP (UK), leader of the European Parliament's Liberal and Democrat Group recognised the efforts made last night at the EU summit in reaching a budget agreement but sounded a note of caution.

"Parliament had proposed an amount of €975bn (1.18% GNI) in June as its carefully considered estimate of what the Union needed to finance its policies over the next seven year period. The European Council have now reached consensus on a figure of 1.

Read more: Europe's Leaders reach budget deal but must show more vision

Barroso wins back hearts of MEPs in EU budget plea - but too late

Published on Wednesday 14th December 2005

Graham Watson MEP (Liberal Democrat Group leader) congratulated President José Manuel Barroso in Strasbourg today on his passionate and forceful retort to the current UK attitude to future budget plans which was received by MEPs with the longest and most sincere applause of the year.

"In his defence of Europe, its ideals, hopes and ambitions for the future, President Barroso has risen to the occasion and shown leadership, vision and defence of the interests of the Union as a whole that is the duty and privilege of the European Commission but it came too late to influence the latest UK budget offer," said Watson

Graham Watson highlighted in his own intervention this morning to the UK Europe Affairs Minister:

"No deal is better than a bad deal which compromises our long-term interests. We must remember this is not just a budget for tomorrow but a budget framework that will bind us right up until 2013. The latest British proposals are more an attempt to meet the lowest common denominator for a deal.

Read more: Barroso wins back hearts of MEPs in EU budget plea - but too late

Financial Perspectives

Published on Wednesday 14th December 2005

Graham Watson, on behalf of the ALDE Group. - Mr President, two years ago today a letter was written to President Prodi. It bore the signatures of one head of state - President Chirac - and five prime ministers: Balkenende, Blair, Persson, Schröder and Schüssel, four of whom, alas, are still in office today. Signed with poison pens, it is the root of our problems today.

Read more: Financial Perspectives

Liberal Democrat Group Leader in EP congratulates his predecessor

Published on Tuesday 13th December 2005

Graham Watson, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament congratulated Pat Cox on his election to the position of President of the European Movement International.

"Pat is the right man at the right time. His campaigning zeal and experience, his wide network of contacts, his strong pro-European credentials and his formidable reputation will stand both him and the European Movement in good stead at this challenging time dominated by the need to reconnect Europe with its citizens," said Watson

Pat Cox is a former leader of the Liberal Group (1998- 2002) before becoming President of the European Parliament (January 2002- June 2004).

Pat was elected by the Federal Council in London comprising 120 delegates representing the members of the European Movement International (EMI).

Read more: Liberal Democrat Group Leader in EP congratulates his predecessor

Liberals and Democrats reiterate call for EP investigation into CIA activities in Europe

Published on Thursday 8th December 2005

Graham Watson, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament lent his backing today to the idea of a parliamentary inquiry into the growing concerns about alleged covert CIA activities on EU Member State territory.

"A parliamentary investigation would help clear up a growing number of doubts and concerns surrounding the transit and holding of suspected terrorists by the CIA on EU territory. Liberal Democrat and Green Members of the Civil Liberties committee made this proposal last week though it received a mixed reception from Parliament's two largest groups. It is interesting to see that they are now jumping aboard as the evidence mounts up.

Read more: Liberals and Democrats reiterate call for EP investigation into CIA activities in Europe

UK proposals got the reaction they deserved

Published on Wednesday 7th December 2005

Graham Watson MEP (UK Lib Dem), Leader of the group of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament commented on the universal criticism by Foreign Ministers across the EU to the latest budget proposals tabled by the UK Presidency:

"Once again the British Government finds itself virtually isolated in Europe and living up to its reputation as 'perfidious Albion'. When will Blair learn that he cannot play to the eurosceptic gallery at home whilst simultaneously pretending to be the great saviour of Europe?"

"The UK rebate remains the key to breaking the deadlock next week at the EU summit. If there is no genuine offer from Tony Blair to limit the growth of Britain's exclusive annual rebate, the ill will across the continent towards the Brits will persist, making any compromise or concessions impossible. Blair has rubbed salt into the wounds by slashing funding to Europe's poorest nations whilst attempting to ring-fence future windfall payments to his own Treasury.

Read more: UK proposals got the reaction they deserved

MEP says Red Ensign threat is "another straight banana story"

Published on Tuesday 6th December 2005

Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson has pointed out that the alleged threat to the UK's Red Ensign is another Brussels scare story peddled by anti-EU Conservatives and their friends in the UKIP.

"The Commission's proposal aims to make sure that EU Member States comply with their IMO (International Maritime Organisation) obligations", Graham Watson said today in a letter to constituents.

"The proposal makes it quite clear that Member States which do so will not be subject to any new legislation". In a Union which stretches as far as Malta and Cyprus and will soon include Bulgaria and Romania, it is right that the EU institutions take maritime safety seriously.

Read more: MEP says Red Ensign threat is "another straight banana story"

Speech to European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs

Published on Tuesday 6th December 2005

Graham Watson

6th December 2005

1,247 Words

Young entrepreneurs- Europe needs you!

Our economy is in the doldrums:

We have 23 million unemployed.

Our rate of economic growth an increasingly faint pulse, while neighbours and competitors storm ahead.

Yet time and time again economists like Andre Sapir are reminding us that Europe's businesses can seize the opportunities of globalisation - if only we enable them to.

And academics like Professor Jeremy Rifkin are heralding a Third Industrial Revolution.

Read more: Speech to European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs

Blair must give up his rebate

Published on Friday 2nd December 2005

Graham Watson, leader of the European Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, is calling on Tony Blair, as President of the EU Presidency, to bite the bullet and agree to renegotiate the terms of Britain's rebate in order to reach a deal on the multi-annual budget by the end of the year.

"The British rebate is the key to unlocking a deal on the €871 billion budget for the next seven years [figure proposed by the Luxembourg Presidency]," said Graham Watson today. "Blair has just two weeks left to strike a deal between 25 Member States on a multi-annual budget that will fund EU policies between 2007 and 2013," he said.

"The rebate, worth some €5bn a year was justified 20 years ago, but much has changed since and it is now an anachronism.

Read more: Blair must give up his rebate

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