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Tom Parker Monday Mail Quote (BLOG) 4 (final)

An alliance of northern European Coastal Chambers accounting for 70% of EU-UK trade urge British and EU negotiators to create clarity on a future trade friendly relationship as soon as possible now that sufficient progress has been made.

The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce represented by Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and BECI – Brussels Chamber of Commerce, the British Chambers of Commerce, Chambers Ireland, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce have today handed over a joint statement to the British and EU Brexit negotiators. They urge the British and EU negotiators to strive for a breakthrough in the first phase of the negotiations to ensure talks on transition and the future EU-UK trade relationship can start as soon as possible.

Countries from the northern European coastal area have always maintained exceptionally good trade ties. Trade between the United Kingdom and the other 6 European Union countries in this area amounted to 344bn EUR in 2016, accounting for 70% of the total EU-UK trade. The English Channel, located in the middle of the North Sea area, is for example the world’s busiest shipping lane, with more than 500 vessels passing through the strait on a daily basis, as well as being a key transport link between the EU and Ireland. A sudden and chaotic disruption of trade in this region would have a substantial economic impact that should not be underestimated.

The northern European Coastal Chambers were therefore pleased to learn last Friday that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations. The Northern European Coastal Chambers now call on the United Kingdom and the European Union to move on to discussing the outlines of a future trade friendly EU-UK relationship that fully respects all aspects of the integrity of the Single Market as soon as possible.

The northern European Coastal Chambers also believe a realistic transition period is needed to provide time for companies to adapt to the new EU-UK trading relationship. A status-quo like transition period – announced with sufficient notice – ensuring the UK remains in the customs union and the Single Market for the duration of the transition period, with all the appropriate rights and obligations, would be best to provide business with the highest possible degree of certainty and predictability.

 

 

Press contacts:
Belgian Chambers
– Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr Tom Demeyer
Tom.Demeyer@voka.be
0032 472 84 15 99
– Beci – Brussels Enterprises, Commerce and Industry
Mr Jan De Brabanter
jdb@beci.be
0032 499 588 845

British Chambers
– British Chambers of Commerce
Mr Allan Williams
a.williams@britishchambers.org.uk
0044 (0)7920 583381
– British Chamber of Commerce – EU & Belgium
Ms Uzma Lodhi
Uzma@britishchamber.eu
0032 (0)499 515553

Chambers Ireland
Mr Ian Talbot
ian.talbot@chambers.ie
00353 87 234 4829

Danish Chamber of Commerce
Mr Kasper Ernest
ker@danskerhverv.dk
0032 491 25 56 11

Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag
Franziska Stavenhagen
0032 2 286 – 1634
stavenhagen.franziska@dihk.de
French Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Mr Christophe Duday
c.duday@ccifrance.fr
0033 1 40 69 38 31

Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce
Mrs. Lyne Biewinga
lbiewinga@nbcc.co.uk
0031 70 205 56 56

Seb Dance has been an MEP since 2014 and is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Development.

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Days at the Parliament can start with a breakfast meeting, a committee-related site visit or a press interview. Then it will often be straight to a meeting of my group, the Socialists and Democrats, before catching up with my Brussels staff about my diary and issues coming up before the Parliament.

Quite a lot of my time is spent on correspondence with constituents via traditional means as well as Twitter. Tweeting thoughts and developments – most of which are concerned with Brexit – are a good way of communicating in real-time what I am up to.

I am a member of the Parliament’s Environment and Development committees, and during committee weeks in Brussels, much of my time will be spent in these meetings. The two committees investigate a range of issues, and I recently acted as the co-ordinator for the Socialist and Democrat Group on the committee of inquiry into the diesel emissions scandal, the report on which came after a year of detailed investigations.

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This week has been a ‘Strasbourg’ or plenary week and my primary area of concern is an oral question on the situation facing the LGBTI community in Chechnya, which happened to occur the day before the International Day Against Homophobia. As well as my committee roles, I am also the European Parliamentary Labour Party’s Spokesperson on LGBTI issues. It was very pleasing to see the Commission and European External Action Service speak out so strongly against the atrocities in Chechnya and send a strong message that the EU will not stand idly by whilst the persecution of LGBTI communities continues.

Evenings in Brussels might involve meeting parliamentary colleagues, to discuss issues and upcoming business over dinner, or speaking to groups about the future of the UK in Europe. If I’m back at home, a typical evening is spent visiting one of the seventy-three Constituency Labour Parties in London, speaking to them about my work in the European Parliament and discussing the latest developments in the post-referendum relations between the EU and UK government.

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Fridays back in London allow me the chance to meet with constituents and to speak to groups across the city, many of whom are concerned about what exactly Brexit will mean for business, industry and citizenship rights. Londoners voted decisively to remain in the referendum last year, and much of my time back home is spent focusing on ensuring those voices are heard over the next two years, fighting to retain our vital access to the Single Market and Customs Union, and calling for the guarantee of the existing rights of EU citizens in the UK.

The UK might be heading out of the European Union, but until that day comes, we must continue to play a full role in the affairs of the Union, including here at the Parliament. To that end, the days of an MEP from the British delegation remain as busy as ever.

To learn more about Seb Dance’s work visit his website: http://www.sebdance.co.uk/
Or follow him on social media: https://twitter.com/SebDance
https://www.facebook.com/SebastianDance

With the ‘World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’ this Sunday, the 21st of May, we look at the importance of diversity in the workplace with MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis. Mr Papadimoulis is the European Parliament’s Vice-President of Parliament responsible for gender equality and diversity, and the Chair of the Bureau’s High-Level Group on the subject.

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It is with great delight that I contribute my thoughts on the importance of diversity in the workplace to the blog published by The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. Workplace diversity is important for a wide range of reasons. With the current workforce demographics shift, the emergence of global markets and consequential globalisation, diversity in the workplace mirrors this societal change. Not only is diversity an ethical concept but it can also contribute to increased productivity and problem-solving. A broader range of talents with diverse experience and knowledge results in wider collaboration to resolve issues. We can use this occasion to reflect upon the importance of diversity and gender equality, those improvements which could and must be made within the EU and the need to promote diversity, inclusion and positive change on a global scale. The European Parliament must be seen to consciously and consistently advocate for full gender equality and diversity, in line with the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The most important problems that have been widely observed refer to weak gender parity when it comes to job quality, equal access and job development. In this respect, remuneration gaps and the globally low rate of women holding executive positions is something we should finally deal with. Gender discrimination still exists and women still be trailed in the workplace.

Furthermore, many studies have shown that gender diversity, albeit secured by human rights convention and adopted in variable business codes, has a positive impact on innovation, productivity and profitability. Nonetheless, in many EU member-states gender inequality persists as young women still find it harder than young men to enter the labour market whereas sexual, physical or psychological violence are not inclusively and successfully addressed.

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As the European Parliament’s Vice-President of Parliament responsible for gender equality and diversity, and as Chair of the Bureau’s High-Level Group on the subject, this event is of significant importance. To achieve equal access and treatment for every human being, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, the European Parliament should further to continue its focus on diversity. Equality and diversity are integral to the values of not only our institution, but those of all EU bodies. At the European Parliament, our pursuit of achieving a vision of equality and diversity in the workplace is highlighted – for example – in our fostering of an open, inclusive working environment for women and men alike (including those persons with disabilities). Additionally, we have a long-standing history of combating the glass ceiling which potentially infringes on individuals’ access to decision-making positions.

Held every year on the 21st May since its assembly by the United Nations in 2002, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development emphasises the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development. This day is an opportunity to help communities to understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. It was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Cultural diversity is an unavoidable aspect of society which should always be embraced and of which we should never be afraid. Our differences and our ability to live side-by-side without assimilation or appropriation are vital to promoting intercultural dialogue and social cohesion.

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On an individual basis, I presented, on behalf of the High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, a report entitled ‘Gender Equality in the European Parliament Secretariat – state of play and the way forward 2017-2019’, which the Bureau adopted on 16 January 2017. We are committed to work and achieve our goals for the coming period, further improve working conditions, tackle existing policy gaps, and turn this institution, and the EU broadly, a place where gender equality and diversity should no longer be an issue of debate.

Greater representation of a wider demographic irrespective of gender, race, disability or religion helps to increase the level of democratic representation of all EU citizens. The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an international observance sanctioned by the United-Nations and encourages concrete action to support both gender equality and diversity.

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EU institutions are fortunate enough to comprise of a wide range of individuals from varying cultures; speaking numerous official EU languages yet harmoniously coming together to achieve a wider aim. The world day for Cultural Diversity seeks to bring awareness to the importance of combating polarization and stereotypes and promotes intercultural dialogue. I am proud that we at the EU Parliament, through everyday gestures and actions, demonstrate that this is an aim which can realistically be achieved.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an effective means of raising awareness. We are all invited to promote the values of cultural diversity and dialogue on a global sphere. No act is too small. Through integration you can use this observation to embrace different cultures, religions and language communities. Through sharing your own customs and values, you can help others to experience those things to which they are not normally accustomed.

To see more of Dimitrios Papadimoulis’s work visit his website: http://www.papadimoulis.gr/en/
or follow his Facebook and Twitter:
https://www.facebook.com/papadimoulis
https://twitter.com/papadimoulis/

 

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

To learn more about Tom’s work visit his website: http://www.eutom.eu/ or follow his twitter: https://twitter.com/tomvdkendelaere

Anneleen Van Bossuyt MEP banner

Anneleen Van Bossuyt has been an MEP since 2015 and is a member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Describing a typical day in the life of an MEP, is actually an impossible task. And that is not a bad thing, on the contrary. Of course, I need to schedule and plan things weeks ahead, but the variety of things I get to do makes working in the parliament interesting and fun. It’s not a job, it’s an experience.

That said, let’s now describe, not ‘a typical day in the parliament’, but ‘one day in the parliament’.

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I usually wake up around 6 AM and check my e-mails. As a Flemish MEP, I have the privilege of living and working in my own country, near my family and friends. The downside is that my day involves quite some commuting. So, after getting myself ready for work, I wake up my son and daughter and prepare their breakfast. Depending on my schedule, I or a friend of the family takes them to school. Then I take the train from the beautiful city of Flanders, my hometown Ghent, to Brussels. Arriving in Brussels half an hour later, I ride my bike to the Parliament.

Between 8 AM and 9 AM I am in the office where I check some more e-mails, handle the most pressing matters and consult my assistants about what’s on today’s schedule. Concretely this means preparing my speaking note for the IMCO committee in the afternoon, discussing at which events to speak, preparing my intervention for tomorrow’s debate on the Brexit and finally deciding on which amendments to table in order to change some committee proposals for the better etc.

Time is running fast and by 10 AM, I have scheduled the first meetings with lobbyists. I am meeting a representative of DPHL on the cross-border parcel delivery file, another person on the Energy Efficiency directive, as well as someone on the e-service card file, three files among many others, which I am responsible for as a (shadow) rapporteur. To the public, lobbyists often have a negative connotation. However, they are of value to us as they can often provide me with expert knowledge and show me the practical consequences of some decisions we make on European level.

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At 11.30 AM I am quickly off to the event that I am hosting on Horizon 2020: ‘Towards a more business friendly horizon 2020: Recommendations for the European Commission’.  As shadow-rapporteur on the file, I have consulted several companies, SMEs, universities and research facilities over the past few weeks. This gave us a very clear idea of the way in which the program needs to be changed and all of the work culminated in today’s event where I presented 10 recommendations to Commissioner Moedas to make H2020 funding more accessible to companies. With over 70 participants present from across all sectors, I am happy to say that the event was a success!

By 13.30 PM I am finally able to grab a sandwich and walk back to the office. I have some time to relax and chat with my colleagues. By 14 PM I am fully recharged to give an interview to a student, who is doing a PhD on the Europeanization of national political parties. As former assistant at the European Law Department of Ghent University, I am always happy to help students with their final dissertations.

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After the interview, I hurry to one of the conference rooms to welcome some of my constituents in the European Parliament. Today, people often look upon the European Union as an alien non-transparent institution, making rules only for itself without taking into account the actual citizens of the Member States. For this reason, I regularly invite schools, organisations and local constituents to the parliament to tell them about who I am and what I do. This is my way of trying to make people understand what the European Union is, what it can do better and what it should stop doing.

At 15 PM a joint ITRE and IMCO committee (I am member of both committees) is taking place on ‘online platforms and the digital single market’, which is very topical at the moment: it is important not to create new boundaries which would prevent the creation of new platforms, but at the same time the classic sectors should be respected. Immediately after this topic is closed, the regular IMCO committee starts, where I am speaking about parcel delivery and the European Accessibility Act.

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I am ending my day in Brussels with a shadow meeting on the geoblocking file, an intense meeting where the different political groups are trying to reach a compromise on different detailed aspects of the file.

By 18.30 PM I can finally commute back home, where I am just in time to spend some time with my children before sending them off to bed. To relax and forget the hectic workday, I work out on my cross trainer while, why not, replying to some more e-mails. By 23 PM I head off to bed for a good night’s sleep in preparation of a new day!

If you would like to learn more about Anneleen’s work visit her website http://www.anneleenvanbossuyt.eu/ or her twitter https://twitter.com/anneleen_vb?lang=en

Last week we announced our 10 negotiation principles and now that Article 50 has been triggered we felt it was due for a timely reminder as to what the priorities of our members are going to be during the negotiations.

WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS FOR A STRONG EU-UK PARTNERSHIP – 10 NEGOTIATION PRIORITIES

In order to underpin a stable, attractive and competitive European economy, the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels (BCCB) have identified ten priorities that should underpin any future UK-EU relationship:

TRADE & INVESTMENT

Equivalent access and treatment: European businesses should be able to access the EU and UK markets, participate in trading mechanisms, trade and provide services across Europe under compatible and equivalent conditions, so as to maintain free and fair economic relations. A deep and comprehensive agreement should guarantee the new UK-EU relationship enabling mutual market access, compatible with EU rules on free movement of goods and services.  A close stable regulatory cooperation should ensure continuation of equivalence in standards and treatment. This includes continuation of tariff-free trading, simplified customs procedures, absence of duty rates and other restrictions, coordinated trade defences vis-à-vis third countries and tariffs and mutual preferential access to third countries’ markets, as well as open data flows.

Freedom of investment and establishment: UK and EU businesses should continue to participate in Europe’s economic life by enjoying mutual protection and unrestricted conditions of establishment and investment. An agreement should ensure that all entities engaged in economic activities, as well as movement of capital between the EU, the UK and third countries, are not subject to unjustified or unnecessary restrictions, for instance being able to rely on unhindered financing under stable equivalent conditions.

LABOUR MARKET

Skills, Qualifications & Employment rights: European businesses need to rely on the right skills at the right time and place, to ensure innovative and dynamic economies and support full employment, as well as on clarity on the rights of the workforce and related obligations of employers during the transition to a new UK-EU relationship. A system between the UK and the EU that provides adequate availability of these skills throughout Europe is a must, including through continued (and where possible enhanced) mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the new EU-UK relationship.

REGULATION & LAW

Competition: UK and EU businesses should benefit from healthy competition and a level playing field, in the interest of all European consumers, while embracing the opportunity provided by under the new relationship. An agreement should foster regulatory cooperation for continued alignment and equivalence in competition and M&A rules, to facilitate approvals, prevent abuses, limit compliance burdens, and ensure proportionality of antitrust investigations, as well as ensure close coordination on clearance of notifications.

Contractual relations and dispute settlement: European businesses must be able to maintain smooth contractual relations, without uncertainty as to the applicability of law in EU-UK cross-border situations, as well as benefitting from streamlined cross-border judicial procedures, certainty as to the competent courts and mutual recognition and enforceability of judgments, to safeguard attractiveness of EU-UK trade and investments.

Better Regulation: The principles of better regulation and proportionality should underpin the new EU-UK relationship and the agreements enshrining it, so as to avoid undue regulatory burden.

ENERGY & CLIMATE

To ensure a level playing field and respecting the principles of the Energy Union, under the new relationship the UK should have continued access to the Internal Energy Market (IEM) and commit to Europe’s climate goals.

TAX

In the negotiations towards a new relationship it should be ensured that the taxation of cross border trade and business activities does not become unnecessarily complicated or lead to double taxation. This applies in particular to the following tax matters: clarity in the application of the UK-EU VAT; keeping or reproducing frameworks that abolish tax impediments, such as the EU Arbitration Convention or legal frameworks on cross-border dividends within groups of companies; and maintaining a common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments between associated companies from the UK and different EU states.

INNOVATION

IP and anti-counterfeiting cooperation: European businesses should be able to rely on continued consistency in the application of IP rules, including the application and protection of trademarks, designs, copyrights and patents. This should be complemented with anti-counterfeiting and anti-fraud cooperation between UK and EU authorities.

Innovation: UK and EU businesses have a shared interest in ensuring ongoing cooperation on knowledge exchange, research priorities and funding, and maintaining open participation in EU and UK R+I+D and education programmes.

 

Catherine Stihler has been an MEP since 1999 and is Vice-Chair on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection as well as a member of the Committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee.

Having been an MEP since 1999 and with two young children the hectic lifestyle of an MEP is something I am accustomed to.

I spend either three or four days a week in Brussels or Strasbourg and the rest of the week back home in Scotland; the structure of my day depends where I am.

Digital - media - Fb, Instagram - CA

During Brussels weeks, my days are a combination of committee meetings, political group meetings and discussions with visitors from national governments, NGO’s, academia, campaign groups and many other organisations.  The day usually starts at 9am with a breakfast meetings and ends around 10pm after an event, a dinner discussion or, on occasions, a social dinner with colleagues.

In Strasbourg my diary is usually at its busiest.  I am in meetings, working groups, giving speeches and observing debates from 8, and often do not leave the Parliament until after 10pm.  It is in Strasbourg that we vote as a Parliament on legislation, one of the most important aspects of our work.  As whip for the UK Labour delegation, Strasbourg weeks are particularly busy for me as I discuss our position on all the files to be voted on with my colleagues.

Constituency weeks vary greatly.  Representing the whole of Scotland means I travel a lot.  I do everything from discussing digital skills in the Highlands to speaking to school pupils in the Borders.  I also have huge amounts of paperwork to deal with in relation to inquiries from constituents and accounts for my office in Inverkeithing.

Re-elected as VC IMCO

Regardless of where I am, there is the matter of the emails I receive each day.  I receive so many meeting requests that I cannot accept them all so work with my team to prioritise those which are of particular relevance to Scotland.  I am Vice Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee as well as a substitute member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, both of which cover issues which really matter to the people of Scotland.

The work of the European Parliament is more relevant to the people of Scotland than many realise.  In my committees, we cover everything from the cost of using your mobile phone abroad to safety standards for gas appliances.  A major priority for me this parliamentary term is to see concrete action to end the digital divide

The life of an MEP is busy and never boring.  My diary fills up months in advance and one of the best parts of my job is working together with colleagues from across the EU as well as concerned constituents, industry representatives and national experts.

If you would like to learn more about Catherine’s work as an MEP visit her website here or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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