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.


Keeping 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


What is a typical week for me?


Monday: 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 EU legislation.


Currently, 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.


Tuesday:  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.


Norsk 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.


In some months we have a mini plenary session of Parliament in Brussels and this week was one of those.


Wednesday:  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 cyclists.


In 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.


Thursday: 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.


Friday: 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.


Saturday/Sunday: 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!