“I’m Julia from Alicante. If each member state has its own government, what’s the role of the European Parliament, and what’s the job of an MEP?”
MEP Joseph Daul explained:
“Well of course there are national parliaments, and there’s the european treaty for major issues.
MEPs deal with major issues like food safety, energy security and defence on a european level at our external borders. No country could do that alone. It would cost much too much for each individual country so we deal with that here at the European Parliament.
We double up on some things, but they’re becoming fewer and fewer.
We deal with the major matters, and we have privileged relations with national parliaments through the Lisbon Treaty, so parliaments can say to us: stop there, that’s not your business, it’s nothing to do with you, it’s for us.
I think everyone has his own specific job and must work on that level – if I were a farmer I’d say ‘the cows are well kept.’
In reality, and on the principle of subsidiarity, national parliaments make sure that the European Union only legislates on matters it is best suited to deal with.
And on how MEPs spend their time, it’s driven by a calendar divided into weeks given a colour.
It begins with Pink weeks given over to parliamentary committees. They’re on specialised themes: the environment, transport, industry or the budget, and that’s where the groundwork is done for the full plenary sessions.
During the blue weeks the MEPs meet among their own political groupings and formulate their position on the subjects on the agenda at the plenary sessions.
The plenary sessions happen during red weeks, the highlight of parliamentary life every month. Reports adopted in committee are debated again and voted on. So that then reflects the official position of the European Parliament.
And finally the turquoise weeks when MEPs go back to their constituencies or head off on fact-finding missions.”