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MEPs get back to work after a uniquely different summer

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European Commission - visits received, European Parliament - member
European Commission - visits received, European Parliament - member   -   Copyright  Etienne Ansotte/ EU Source: EC - Audiovisual Service
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With the summer vacation over, MEPs have returned to work after what could be considered one of the strangest holiday periods in living memory.

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just changed the rules and regulations within the European Parliament, it has also changed the political landscape.

But what are MEPs priorities now that they are back and how have they changed since before the summer?

Brando Benifei MEP believes that the European Parliament needs to be "strengthened".

“Today the European Union is too slow to react to things and it has been quite quick on the coronavirus crisis, but with limits. I think we need to be stronger if we want to tackle future challenges...This is something we will be working on for sure," he said.

For anything to be achieved during this crisis though, Portuguese MEP, Lidia Pereira, believes that the bloc's efforts must be harmonised better: "There has to be dialogue and there was something that this pandemic showed was if there is coordination and more answers to the challenges that we are facing.

"If we do it together it is completely different. So my take on this is to make sure that there is dialogue and that we don't make the same mistakes as in the first phase of the pandemic...we have to coordinate our efforts together," she added.

Investing in low carbon technologies is also a key focus for some MEPs, in order to better prepare Europe for the climate crisis we are also facing.

"We need to ensure economic competitiveness and I think the only way that we can do that is by making sure that the cost [of low carbon technology] is not too high for citizens," Eva Maydell MEP told Euronews.

"One way to do it is to make sure we use low carbon technologies that exist, such as gas and nuclear energy to make sure that the cost is not too high," she added.

But the one clear and present danger is the Coronavirus Recovery Fund which will be crucial to the continent’s economic fortune. MEP Benifei, however, sees the coronavirus crisis as a unique chance for Europe: "I think that the coronavirus has given us now the opportunity for us to rebuild a more cohesive, greener and more connected continent with more social justice. I think we need to go in that direction or there will be no real recovery."

MEPs will clearly have their own agendas they would like to focus on, but whatever the priority, the next few months could determine the EU’s future for many years to come.