Despite the spectre of Brexit, British MEPs can and should be properly engaged with the European Parliament as long as they are here, according to the only two UK top job holders in the European institutions so far.
EURACTIV spoke with Chris Davies and Lucy Nethsingha, two newly-elected lawmakers who have become chairs of parliamentary committees despite staying in Brussels on borrowed time, given the 31 October deadline for the UK to leave the bloc. Both are Liberal Democrats, a party staunchly in favour of staying in the EU.
Nethsingha considered her and Davies’ election as “a vote of confidence” in the British MEPs. “The Parliament seems very willing to accept us as full members,” she said.
However, they both hope that they will hold their high-level roles for the full five-year term, as they still consider that Brexit can be stopped.
“I was elected to try and stop Brexit,” said Chris Davies, adding that want his country “to be a leader, not a leaver.”
“Brexit is a real question mark about if we leave, or when we leave,” said Nethsingha.
“And whether we leave sooner or later or not at all, the future of the UK is going to be deeply bound up with the future of the European Union,” she added.
Ready for the job
Davies was elected to steer the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH), while Nethsingha presides over the cross-sectoral Legal Affairs Committee (JURI). They both chaired their first full session during July’s committee week.
“The most important thing I can do as chairman is to raise awareness of the problem we face,” Davies said, adding that fish stocks are improving because of the right measures to promote sustainability and stop overfishing.
However, a lot of work has to be done and fish stocks are not good enough, he told EURACTIV. “We need a long term secure future for our fishing industry and that can only come about if we have more fish in the sea and if fish are sustainably farmed,” he said.
Fisheries is also a sensitive topic in the Brexit negotiations. New UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been repeating time and again that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) could be easily scrapped.
JURI committee is responsible for the interpretation, application and monitoring of Union law compliance, but also for better law-making. The committee also has a special competence over intellectual property law.
Nethsingha deemed it as a “fascinating committee”. “There are all sorts of things that come to us from outside because there are bits of case law and controversial issues,” she said.
“We do have also other sorts of projects and looking at the implications for artificial intelligence is quite likely to be one of them,” she added.