New faces, new places

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks from being at the count at the end of May through to this week, when Parliament opens.

The first day in Brussels I seemed to be continually lost, but everybody from the ushers to the civil servants took time to help. Everyone has been so friendly. Almost every official  has quietly said something along the lines of, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but we are all very pleased to see the Liberal Democrats back in Europe.” No one here wants Brexit to happen – and for all the right reasons.

This week has been dominated by final preparations and organisation before the European Parliament sits, when, alongside my fifteen colleagues from across the UK, I officially take my seat. We have received our committee allocations, and I am delighted to announce that I have been selected to sit on the European Parliament’s Committee for Education and Culture.

 

I have attended a number of Renew Europe group meetings looking at policy and discussing a framework document. I also took the opportunity to attend a briefing session on Tuesday looking at the latest research in energy storage to promote the use of renewable energy for the grid and for vehicles, and also how better energy storage can help us meet the EU energy and climate goals. 

This is a critical subject for future research. Whilst worldwide energy use overall is predicted to decrease, electricity use is predicted to double! The EU has set an ambitious, binding target of 32% for renewable energy sources in the EU’s energy mix by 2030, it is now up to member states to implement this.

Looking at education and culture, we learned on Thursday that new MEPs have an opportunity to propose pilot projects to the commission, but the deadline is tight. Me and my team are planning to propose a scheme to promote and retain girls’ interest in science and engineering. This is just one of the ways in which those you elected can help to guide the work of the commission.

Renew Europe, as a group, met to discuss our position document to lay out our ideas and intentions to the European Council and the Commission. It is a real honour to be sitting with, working and voting with so many well-intentioned, like-minded people.

This first parliamentary session in Strasbourg begins next week. People tell me that the Parliament building is similar to the Galactic Senate Chamber in Star Wars, I will let you know!

Rounding off my week, back in the UK, I had the privilege of being shown around the breath-taking grounds at Brookwood Military Cemetery to mark Armed Forces Day, and in West Berkshire attending a session discussing how to be your child’s first science teacher.