Tom Vandendelaere has been an MEP since November 2014. He is a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Substitute and Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Substitute.
Today, the 26th of April, has only one thing in common with yesterday, the 25th of April and that is the name of the month. Every day is different since there are other opportunities to take and pitfalls to avoid. I have certainly taken on one opportunity today namely, writing this blog post.
The day starts at 5h45, after hitting the snooze button a couple of times followed by a refreshing shower. My daily morning routine demands a jam sandwich with each newspaper I read and, luckily for me, there are only three of them. To read newspapers enables me to look at the same facts from different angles and make a distinction between hard facts and interpretations. However, there is no time to lose because I have to take the car to Bruges and the 7h00 train to Brussels to the office at the European Parliament Today’s hot topic: Brexit and its effect on Belgium and the Flemish Region. In my opinion, we have to value this trade relationship that we have with the UK but tough negotiations do not exclude a soft Brexit. If everything is properly negotiated with mutual respect for each other, future trade between the EU and UK can be secured as is important for SMEs in both regions.
When arriving at the office at 8h30, I get down to work immediately by having a meeting with my parliamentary assistants in order to coordinate the work we are doing and to run through the agenda of the day. If I am talking about the work we are doing this can often be related to one of the committees of which I am a member. It is always difficult to decide to which committee to go first, as most committees have overlapping schedules, but nevertheless I have to make a choice.
The first one out of three is the ECON committee which starts at 09h30. A couple of issues are discussed of which passporting rights can be interesting for the UK. It enables financial institutions in an EU-member state to do business in another member state of the European Union without needing further authorization. The upcoming Brexit could invoke that many firms, especially international banks, leave the UK in order to retain their passporting rights and the consequent access to the common market. In the meantime the AGRI committee is already at full speed. Agricultural policy is close to my heart since I was born in one of the most agriculture-oriented regions in Europe. West Flanders, has clearly left its mark. Agriculture still accounts for nearly 40 percent of the budget of the European Union. In the case of the UK we can think about the agricultural subsidies: 3.3 billion euro a year. If these farmers want to remain competitive than these subsidies are definitely needed to lower the production costs.
After a chaotic morning I try to foresee half an hour of sports in my agenda. Just before lunch I like to do some exercises in the gym at the European Parliament. Such moments are rare, unfortunately. At 12h00 I have a lunch meeting with a journalist of a business newspaper who wanted to know my opinion about the position of the European Central Bank, Greece, Prospectus and Brexit.
At 14h00 I rush to the EMPL committee. Today’s discussion is about the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission has the intention to initiate a proposal concerning the social rights of EU citizens because of the focus, in the last decade, on economic and monetary aspects. It concerns i.a the legal regulation and status of new forms of work (e.g. the couriers of Deliveroo) and the opportunities of new technologies within the working environment. Coincidentally, the publication day of this blog spot, 1 May, is the day Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum is remembered, a milestone in the recognition of the importance of the employee’s rights.
The Brexit working group of the EPP is scheduled at 15h30 and deals with the coordination of viewpoints within the EPP Group. This is necessary because if we want a successful negotiation in the future, it is important to act as unified as possible.
As an MEP I have to deal with lobbyists almost on a daily basis. And today is not an exception to the rule. At 16h30 I have a meeting with a lobbyist who represents the interest of employers within the Flemish Region. She wanted to know more about the new prospectus regulation. This regulation aims to ease the access to financial resources for small and medium-sized enterprises, a topic dear to British investors and bankers alike. It should become easier and cheaper to attract candidate-investors.
After taking some time to meet up with a Belgian visitor group, I went back to the office for a short interview by telephone about the abolishment of the roaming costs after the 15th of June 2017. In the context of the wholesale roaming market I addressed the advantages both for consumers and businesses within the EU.
I leave the office at 18h30, after discussing some practical issues with my assistants and take the train back to my hometown. When finally arriving at home there is hardly any time left for dinner because I have to go to a local entrepreneurial event at 20h30. The event is about the policies that are needed to preserve the future of local entrepreneurship. Where can the EU make a difference?
Eventually I am off to bed at 23h00 but before this happens I treat myself with a pint of my favourite Belgian beer: Rodenbach.