Hello everybody and thanks, once again, for stopping by and taking the time to read MepLife. Work in the European Parliament powers on and, as you know, I use my newsletter, this weekly blog and the podcast I do with Caroline Voaden to shine a light on them. If you have views about the things that I cover – please let me and the team know.
This week, I was back in Strasbourg where, amongst other things, we voted into office the new College of Commissioners. They, alongside Commission President, Mrs. Von der Leyen, formally took office on 1st December and will sit for five years. The U.K. government has, of course, refused to send a Commissioner, a childish move, I believe, as big decisions being taken which affect the U.K. as well as Europe’s relations with the rest of the world.
Parliament formally approved the EU 2020 budget that had been negotiated and agreed with the European Council. The outcome was enormously encouraging with an increase in both total commitments and total payments across the board. Speaking as our Spokesperson for Education in Europe, as well as a member of the Education and Culture (CULT) Committee, I was thrilled as this meant €2.8 billion was set aside for the Erasmus+ scheme, an increase of €50 million from 2019. This a programme I am deeply passionate about and one which has provided thousands of UK students with life-changing opportunities. Erasmus+ is a scheme run by the European Commission that has, since its inception in 1987, provided financial and logistical support for students to live, study, train and work abroad in EU member states. It is a remarkable offering and it’s been one of my main objectives to spread the word about Erasmus+ and who can benefit from it increase, something which culminated in my invitation over 39 young apprentices to come to Brussels in October. You can see what we got up to, as well as more about what’s available through Erasmus+, here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGtPPTMBhvTcS5dNMDHZgYg/playlists
Just imagine for a second what we can do with even more funding for next year. Think of the lives we can change and the careers we could kick start. And the best part? This is only the beginning of something huge. The EU is determined to radically improve education opportunities throughout Europe. Then … let’s remember that in Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Bill there exists not one single mention of Erasmus+. Not one. He is willing to throw away thousands of opportunities for British youngsters. This is not good enough, not nearly good enough and it is one reason why we must all continue our fight to #StopBrexit. If we do not, we are failing those looking to enrich their lives, denying them the kinds of opportunities that others have been enjoyed.
On Thursday I attended my first meeting of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology. This is a group which, correctly, sees scientific and technological advancement at the heart of economic growth. It recognises that we must understand the impact of emerging technologies if we are to really build a society that’s equipped to deal with the issues of tomorrow. I’m honoured to have been elected to this group and look forward to updating you with more in the coming weeks!
As many of you will have seen, Thursday also brought about an historic event in the European Parliament. In declaring a Climate Emergency, we became the first to do so across an entire continent. My speech on why this is so important can be found here. It is imperative that we all reduce our carbon footprint in every aspect of our lives, from the food on our plate and the technology we use to the exploitation of our oceans and the imports of trade outside our bloc. We will work together to reduce our footprint, not just in Europe, but also across the globe. We have an amazing opportunity to create change, we must take it!