Two for four

26 May 2014

Two for four

Today was my first day back in the European Parliament following the election campaign. The same office as I had before the campaign, yet it feels all the same like a new start. First of all because of a fantastic new colleague, Anne-Marie Mineur, who was elected as a result of receiving 52,000 first preference votes, moving her from number 3 to number 2 on the SP list of candidates. And with a partly new team, because around election time people also give serious consideration to their future and applications are received from people who are interested in strengthening the SP’s team in the Brussels. So it’s a new start, though unfortunately not with the three or four seats that we hoped to win. Still, Anne-Marie and I will just have to do the work of four. Brussels is a long way from shaking off the SP, on the other hand. In percentage terms our vote rose to such an extent that only D66 gained more in these elections.

With Anne-Marie Mineur (left) on election day

Unlike in 2009 I knew this time what awaited us: first of all an endless administrative carousel, necessary to put all the paperwork in order; the construction of a partly new team, and then the negotiations over the division of parliamentary functions, including membership of committees. That’s important, because it is via membership of these committees that you build up your profile. You don’t have a free choice in this: of course you can state your preference, but if a lot of your colleagues from the political group to which you are affiliated have by chance an interest in the same committee or committees as you, you may not be able automatically to assume that you will get your choice.

In 2009 I eventually became a member of the Internal Market Committee, the Justice and Home Affairs Committee, which deals with civil liberties, and the Budgetary Control Committee. It seems clear that in the new parliamentary session I will retain these committees. As a ‘veteran’ you are given a sort of preferential treatment by your political group, and if you’ve already spent five years on a particular committee, that also counts. Fir Anne-Marie things will be a little more complicated. If she chooses a popular committee, she’ll have to compete for a place with colleagues with the same interest.

This week we’ll already be hard at work. This will not only involve the choice of committees, as well as the recruitment of new employees, which will demand a great deal of time, but equally, from the start the new financial administration must be in good order, while it’s likely that we will have to move offices within the EP buildings, because a new parliament means that all of the offices must be assigned anew.

The most important thing, however, is that we deliver to the voters what we promised to deliver, and that we go hard at it. Who knows, the entire EU Treaty could be up for change and in the EP too we will confront this. In any case we will be subjecting all proposed legislation to the test of our principles: human dignity, equality and solidarity. Two SP Euro-MPs have enough force to make our slogan – 100% social – heard in Brussels as well.

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