Once I had arrived on the first day, I was met by Joana, one of the Chris's legislative assistants, and immediately ushered into a strategy meeting with some of the other ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) group members. These alliances are formed between parties with similar political leanings. I discovered that within a group each MEP specialises in a few topics, such as fisheries or agriculture, so that they are able to develop subject expertise. During this initial meeting, and throughout the two days, a lot of the talk about legislation went over my head completely. The number of abbreviations used made exchanges hard to follow. Not only that, but the proposed legislation itself could be quite complex; there was much discussion about the implications of voting for or against particular legislature. What were the agendas of the relevant stakeholders? Back home, what were the political implications of decisions?
The European Parliament was winding down for the re-elections, but to me everything still seemed incredibly busy. I watched Chris Davies complete interviews, vote on legislation in the iconic oval rooms, attend a lunchtime presentation on carbon capture and storage, meet with people who wanted support for their environmental campaigns, appraise speech drafts and chair special interest group meetings. I also attended a lunchtime debate about sustainable palm oil, hosted by Julie Girling MEP. The most enjoyable part of the first day was attending the annual MEP awards ceremony in the evening, hosted by The Parliament Magazine. Chris Davies won an award in the environment category- his two legislative assistants Carly and Joana were very excited and proud. The three make a very close team and it was great to be there and watch their hard work being recognised.
The whole of experience of being the EU Parliament felt like a whirlwind. The day-to-day experiences would keep anyone on their toes. It’s quite exciting, because much of the work is very reactive, responding to unfolding events. Thank you so much Chris, Carly and Joana for a great two days!
You can find out more when I complete a radio interview with Dr Catherine Preece about our Parliamentary shadowing experiences. Watch out for updates!
Rebecca Atkinson is a Post-doctoral Researcher in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @CarlineThistle