Just as you elect local councillors to look after your local community and MSPs and MPs to represent you at Holyrood and Westminster, voters in Scotland also elect six MEPs every five years to represent them in the European Parliament. MEPs are elected regionally and in this case Scotland is one part of the UK.
An MEP’s main task is to debate, amend, and ultimately vote on European legislation just as MSPs in Holyrood vote on national legislation. European legislation is binding across the whole of the European Union. These laws are made by your MEPs and your government ministers acting in the Council of Ministers.
As a Labour MEP, I want to make sure the UK feels the full benefit of our membership of the EU - before Brexit happens. Along with my colleagues I concentrate on the issues that really matter such as jobs, a competitive and sustainable economy, the environment, crime and consumer protection.
Labour MEPs work together as the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP). In turn the EPLP are part of the second largest group in the European Parliament, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).
So what can MEPs help with?
I am always keen to engage with as many communities and organisations in Scotland as possible and regularly speak with and meet groups from across the country to discuss European matters.
I am contacted by constituents seeking help and advice on various problems on a daily basis. MEPs can offer advice on any issue that relates to EU law. Broadly, these fall under the following areas – consumer protection, EU citizenship rights, employment and trade issues relating to the Single Market and environmental protection.
However, there are some matters I simply cannot get involved with because I have no power to usefully do so. As an MEP, I am not in a position to help with the following matters:
- Legal issues (including matters concerning the European Court of Human Rights or Human Rights generally);
- Matters which concern your local council (such as housing or planning permission), Scottish Parliament or the UK Parliament rather than a European matter which concerns the European Parliament; or
- Issues regarding the interpretation and implementation of an EU rule by the government of Scotland, the UK or another member state rather than a matter which is presently relevant to the European Parliament. In the first instance the national authority should be contacted, only in the event of their failure to properly implement do MEPs have the authority to intervene. Even in this case, MEPs assistance would be generally rather limited.
In relation to any legal issues, I am not in a position to get involved and my advice is to contact a qualified legal professional.