We’re fast approaching the EU referendum, and though we hear claim and counter claim about membership, we’ve heard hardly anything about the work of our representatives in the European Parliament. Indeed, if you are relying on the BBC for information, you could believe that only UKIP has any MEPs – and be forgiven for thinking they don’t do very much. Paul Tattam, a Green Party member based in the High Peak, has complained to the BBC more than once about the monopoly given to UKIP MEPs in programmes like Question Time. Here, he provides an overview of the work done by the European Parliament.
Twenty eight European countries with a combined population of over half a billion people are represented by the 751 members elected by voters in the member states. The United Kingdom has 73 MEPs – the third highest representation of any country.
A proportional representation electoral system favours allows small parties, like the Greens to be well represented. There are 50 Green MEPs in the parliament – three are from the UK – Jean Lambert is a representative for London, Keith Taylor for the South East, and Molly Scott-Cato for the South West.
What do our MEPS do?
The threats facing our world in the 21st century – climate change and environmental degradation, tax avoidance and corruption, terrorism, war and refugee crises – are all issues that can only be addressed internationally – and this is precisely what the Members of the European Parliament do.
‘Dieselgate’ – the extent of the conspiracy by car manufacturers to cheat the public about the nature of emissions from their vehicles is an issue that European Greens are currently pursuing – making sure that this threat to our health and safety doesn’t disappear from view.
Air quality – Green MEPs have worked hard to get improvements in the appalling quality of the air many of our towns and cities. It is a tribute to the tenacity of MEPs that the British Government is now once again facing action in the High Court over its inaction over poor air, despite the censure of the UK Supreme Court in 2015.
But Green MEPs aren’t just involved in environmental issues – foreign affairs, economic policy, transport and tourism, tax avoidance, and rural affairs are all committees that our Green MEPs work on.
When we travel to EU countries or holiday or work, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so easy. For example, MEPs have worked to reciprocal health care agreements so we can rely on treatment when aboard. Our own beaches have benefited from the rules on the quality of bathing water introduced by the EU. More recently MEPs have worked hard to stop us being ripped off by exorbitant roaming charges when we travel in EU countries. There are opportunities for exchanges and study programmes in Europe, and hundreds of thousands of UK citizens benefit from the right to work in another EU country without red tape.
It’s easy to contact your MEP. Contact details are available on the European Parliament Website (www.europarl.europa.eu), where you an also find out about the issues MEPs are dealing with. Our own MEPs Roger Helmer, Glenis Willmott, Andrew Lewer, Emma McClarkin, and Margot Parker from three different parties, and it is our right to expect any one of these members to answer our questions.
For more information about our Green MEPs