It’s great to be back in the European Parliament after being re-elected to continue representing my home region, the North East of England. While this summer most of my days focused on the technicalities of retaking my seat, attending constitutive meetings and going to Strasbourg for the first plenary session of this mandate, this week our new roles are starting to shape up a bit more. This is because we have just been allocated our new committees and therefore our main areas of work for the mandate. I wanted to give you a quick run-through of what committees I’m sitting on this term, as well as an idea of my overall priorities as your Labour MEP for the North East.
Trade will yet again be my main area of work, as I return as a full member on the International Trade Committee (INTA). I was Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on the EU’s most controversial trade talks such as the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). While I hope nothing this notorious crops up on our new agenda, there will be plenty of new trade deals to scrutinise, including with Australia, New Zealand and Mercosur countries. All the while my main red line will be that human rights are undoubtedly respected in all the countries with which we trade.
I am also returning on the Petitions Committee (PETI) as a full member. This is a committee very close to my heart where it truly feels like you have a very direct and positive impact on the lives of European citizens. The highlight for me was working on the stolen babies scandal in Spain, as I led a fact-finding mission to Madrid to urge their authorities to open relevant archives.
A new challenge, and an exciting return to my roots in a way, is the fact that I am now also a substitute member on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL). While this is linked to my background in trade unions, it is new territory for me in the Parliament and I’m excited for the opportunities it will bring.
As for my priorities as your Labour MEP... they remain the same as they have been for the past five years. I will continue to represent the North East’s best interest at European level and make sure your voice is heard in the European Parliament. I will continue to scrutinise Brexit negotiations with a fine-tooth comb, do my best to make sure our region isn't left behind by this shambolic Tory government, as well as campaign for Remain & Reform.
My office door is always open to my constituents so don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, email or social media. If I can help, I will!