We caught up with Marlene Mizzi, a Maltese MEP, a couple of weeks ago for another insight into the day to day lives of MEPs at the European Parliament.
A Day in the Life of an MEP…
In the daily life of an MEP there is no such thing as routine, certainty or habits. The only certain thing is that no two days are alike. The only routine is the weekly travel from my home country to Brussels or Strasbourg every Monday morning and returning on Thursday evening. My only habit in Brussels is my morning tea, usually following the news on TV.
At the beginning of my mandate I was determined to find time to go to the gym as I used to do at home. But, after three years of being a parliamentarian I bought my new gym kit, the items are still brand new with the price tickets attached!!
Very often people think that we Parliamentarians are only busy during plenary sessions. MEPs are mainly kept busy by the parliamentary committees where they do all the preparatory work for the plenary sessions in Strasbourg.
I should start by saying that today is the 27th of September, World Tourism Day, created to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its cultural, political and economic values. Since tourism is an important sector for the Maltese economy as soon as I arrive at the office at around 8h30 I start informing my constituencies on the different initiatives and events organised in Malta, which this year were promoting universal accessibility.
Social media is an important tool in MEPs’ lives and helps us promote different initiatives, bring awareness or simply inform citizens about our work. So before heading to my morning meetings, I always take a few minutes to update my social media.
Another thing to mention is that I sit on 3 different Committees. This means often, whilst I am at a meeting, there are at least two other meetings of my Committees that are happening at the same time. Unfortunately, you can’t be in more than one place at a time, but this is where my staff come in to assist. In fact, I cannot fail to mention that assistants are a great assets to MEPs in many ways, and my assistants are first class!
At 9h00 I rush to an internal meeting with MEPs from my political group, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), sitting on the Committee of Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) to discuss the internal position on an important vote on an Opinion on Cross-border portability of online content.
My next meeting, Horizontal Working Group on Foreign Affairs starts at 10h45. I am a member of the EU-ACP Delegation and as such I follow with great interest these meetings which take place on Tuesdays before a plenary session. During these meetings we usually discuss issues related to violations of human rights around the world, migration, situations in Libya or situations in Syria. This time we discussed a report on the future of the EU-ACP relations that is going to be adopted at the next plenary session.
After the end of the meeting at around 12h30, I manage to grab a sandwich and a coffee and to go to my office to reply to urgent emails and prepare for the afternoon meetings.
The afternoon meetings started at 14h00 with a meeting on the Digital Europe Working Group. It was formed by a select group of S&D MEPs tasked with coordinating the work of the Socialist Group between the different committees in order to create a truly Digital Single Europe.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the whole meeting because at 15h00 I had to speak and attend a Conference on the “The Universal Language of Sport” in my role as a shadow rapporteur on the Report on an integrated approach to Sport Policy: good governance, accessibility and integrity. As a former athlete, sport is a topic close to my heart because I have seen the positive value of sport. Whether if it is for recreational purposes and whether it is organised, casual or competitive sport, at the same time I have also seen the ugly side of the sports industry, I think the EU and Member States can do far more to promote good governance and integrity of sport.
At 17h30, I head back to my office to prepare my meetings for the next day. Many think that MEPs only attend meetings and conferences, but a big part of our work is also analysing European legislation and various documents from the European Commission and the Council, doing research or writing reports and amendments.
This particular evening I had to analyse the Commission new revised draft rules, on the ‘fair use policy’ of the ‘roam like at home’ principle, needed to avoid abuses of the end of roaming charges in time for June 2017. As the IMCO shadow rapporteur on the Telecom package, I wanted to read the implementing acts of the Commission and to see if consumers are safeguarded with stronger consumer protection.
Evenings at the office are also occupied with a new report on European standardisation priorities for the 21st century. As interesting the topic might be, it is very technical in nature and therefore requires extensive time and hours to research the topic. Going wrong on this Report might seriously hamper the future of European research and innovation industries. I believe everything I am doing should be done with my whole heart and soul in the interest of the European business, consumers and citizens.
When the day is finally over, I go back home. I live alone, as my family is in Malta. My dinner usually consists of cheese and crackers …and a glass of very chilled white wine, watching television …during which I usually doze off!