Philippe de Backer is a Member of the European Parliament for Open VLD, and is part of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). In June, we will be hosting our Annual visit to Strasbourg, where you will have the chance to meet and interact with a number of MEPs. For the full programme and more information on registrations, please click here.
What do members of the European parliament actually do all day? Indeed, it has become a rather frequent question when I talk to people who visit the parliament, or even close friends. Since the beginning of my term, I have been trying to shed a bit of light on my work and I have encouraged citizens to interest themselves in what their representatives are doing. I have even tried to make an account of an ordinary day in a life of an MEP. But “an ordinary day” is quite an understatement in European politics.
6.30 AM – The day starts early in my household. This is when I can have some time to myself and spend some quality time with my wife and daughter. I cherish these moments with them. Marie and Sophia bring so much joy to my life.
7 AM – It’s time to get ready for another busy day in the office and leave my house in Antwerp, the metropolis of Flanders.
9 AM – I’m arriving in Brussels, the first thing on my agenda are some appointments with public affairs people in the pharmaceutical sector. As a PhD in Biotechnology, I am mostly interested in innovation and bringing medicines to patients. Recently, I have focused on raising awareness about rare diseases and providing patients access to medicines for these.
11 AM – Time to work on the European Fund for Strategic Investments. We are trying to mobilise private investment in Europe, but the proposal of the European Commission needs some changes. As a general rule, this involves discussing with the staff, preparing documents and writing amendments.
1 PM – Lunch is usually a moment to reflect on some more long term projects. By attending lunches I get information about files I am not directly working on. Or I discuss strategy and political matters with my staff. This tends to be good for the atmosphere around the office and it keeps us all energetic and motivated for the remainder of the day.
2 PM – After lunch, I’m having an interview with Trends, a Belgian Magazine about the digital market and the application of E-call, an initiative to install a safety system in cars that automatically calls the emergency centre in case of a car accident.
3 PM – As I like to be ahead of the political agenda, I use this time to prepare myself for the rest of the coming weeks. Discussing speeches with the staff, reading papers and informing myself on anything that could come up suddenly so that I am prepared.
4 PM – Meeting with ALDE Group and the Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxes and Customs. We had an interesting meeting on economic governance and better regulation of the European economic system.
6 PM – The day at the Parliament is over, but work is not! I have to attend a debate in Leuven University, the oldest in Belgium. During the journey, I take advantage to make some phone calls in the car and eat something quick.
8 PM – The debate is about to start and I’ll the chance to interact with students at university of KU Leuven. I always try to attend a lot of these events as I really enjoy a fun discussion where I can challenge the audience with bold and daring statements. At the same time, the students surprise me with their fresh and inspiring ideas.
11.30 PM – I’m finally back home and it’s time to recharge the batteries with my wife and my favourite TV show: House of Cards.
0.30 AM – Before going to sleep, I always try to read up on some files for the next day. The day in the life of an MEP is very intense and varied, so preparation and anticipation is key during those moments where you can have some time for yourself – which is not very often.
2 AM – Bedtime.