Your MEP in Brussels Feb04
AS one of the four Conservative Members of the
European Parliament representing the East of England, it is my
responsibility in Brussels and Strasbourg to promote and protect the
interests of the 5.4 million constituents in our Region. Although I serve
right across the Region, I focus on Norfolk and Suffolk where agriculture
and the rural economy are crucial in supporting the urban areas.
In Brussels, I work hard to expose EU fraud and
mismanagement, promote our Region's small businesses and protect the
livelihoods of our farmers and fishermen by ensuring that any EU
legislation is not detrimental to the East of England. I am known as the
fiercest critic of the European Commission in matters of accountability.
in touch with our MPs, councillors, district and county councils, Regional
agencies like EEDA and constituents is essential for my work. I check the
Internet column editions of the leading newspapers - including, of course,
the East Anglian Daily Times. I write regular newspaper columns and ever
since I was first elected as MEP in 1999, I have published a monthly
newsletter that summarises my activities. This Newsletter (“In Touch”)
is available free to anyone who registers with my office by sending an
email request to email@example.com.
is a typical week for me?
I take an early morning flight to Brussels (or Strasbourg once a month)
and go straight to the Parliament's Committee at 3.00 p.m. - either
Committee for Industry, External Trade, Energy & research or the
Committee for International Co-operation & Development. Committee work
involves consultation, discussion, negotiating compromises and voting on
I am drafting a legislative proposal on "Addition of vitamins and
minerals to food". This affects all food and beverages right across
the EU and it is important that I secure a legislative proposal that will
deliver sound nutritional value, consumer safety and protection without
unnecessary and costly legislation that penalise food producers.
in the Industry Committee, I presented my amendments to the
legislative proposals on the use of fluorinated carbons in mobile and
fixed air-conditioning systems that will, in future, require a switch from
fluorinated hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide. Clearly, any change in vehicle
air-conditioning systems needs careful consideration on the basis of
science, environmental safety, costs and the feasibility of adoption over
a sensible time scale.
Hydro, the Norwegian energy multinational, invited me to see the system
actually working in a couple of vehicles. I welcome such opportunities to
liaise directly with industry or business that are likely to be affected
by EU legislation. My industrial pharmacy background and ability to
communicate in French and Spanish help me enormously in consulting and
negotiating legislative compromises in Committees with continental MEPs.
some months we have a mini plenary session of Parliament in Brussels and
this week was one of those.
In Parliament, I spoke against forced nationalisation of land and
violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. I highlighted corruption and fraud
in EU institutions as well as the continued lack of audited annual
accounts from the Commission for the EU's budget of £60bn! I welcomed the
announcement that more than £400,000 of EU money will be spent in the
Ipswich Village Project to help separate traffic from pedestrians and
the evening, I met the Secretary General of the European Pharmaceutical
Wholesalers to discuss the implication of the expected EU Pharmaceutical
Legislation where my amendment ensures uninterrupted supply of
prescription medicines from manufacturers to wholesalers, hospitals,
pharmacies and patients.
I studied key amendments before voting in Plenary. In the afternoon, I
tackled the huge postbag from sugar beet farmers worried about the reform
of the sugar regime and the welfare of farm animals during transit over
long distances. I wrote to EU Commissioner Fischler and Margaret Beckett,
the Secretary of State for DEFRA, pleading them to support Option 1 for
sugar reform as it is best for our sugar beet growers.
I take the early morning flight to London Heathrow and continue my journey
on the motorways (M25/M11 and A14/A12) to the constituency. In recent
weeks, I have visited a sugar beet farmer, addressed the Lowestoft
Conservatives, the Bedford Conservatives and the East Anglia Branch of the
UK's Tropical Agricultural Society in Eye, Suffolk.
If I am not canvassing or speaking at a Conservative Association meeting,
then it is time for papers, writing articles and to be with my wife Maria
and our son Hamid. Maria usually accompanies me to constituency events and
enjoys meeting constituents – she leaves the politics to me!