Several myths and biased information about the activities of the Members of the European Parliament are floating around. Thanks to a recent controversial analysis published by a think-tank, I realized that while trying to introduce current European issues to the Leaders Magazine readers and trying to share my views on it, for a while now, I have actually never imagined myself being part of this whole process. What is the job of being a Member of the European Parliament about? Let me honour my debt.
The European Parliament can be compared to a huge anthill: 766 ants/members are currently working here, with the Croatian ones who have joined us last summer. The achievement of a parliamentary mandate basically consists of beavering away, which is not always seen in its ensemble. The main decision point lays within the committee work. As the readers already know, I am focussed on topics related to energy, telecommunications, satellite navigation, industry policy and research. I am a member of the relevant parliamentary committee ITRE, where I am honoured of being its vice-chair. This obviously involves its duties, such as occasional presiding of meetings, participating at official meetings etc. The European Parliament adopts various points of view as well as various declarations, but its key duty is especially the preparation and approbation of the European legislation. Every proposal has its own main rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs are appointed from other political groups. Since 2009, I have represented our Conservative group in the negotiations of two important projects, which I have tried to explain also in the Leaders Magazine articles. The first one concerned the setting up of rules for the GNSS Agency (GSA) operating for the European Galileo navigation system. This also helped in moving the agency to Prague. Then, during the last two years I was busy with the Connecting Europe Facility telecommunication pillar, where I am pleased to announce that we have reached a final agreement. As main rapporteur, the Member of Parliament spends the most of his time attending formal and preparatory meetings, suggesting compromises, communicating with colleagues – with shadow rapporteurs, with the Council, with the Commission and also with any other key players. This is why, when a Member of Parliament is responsibly “shadowing” on various reports – I am myself having 14 other drafts at various stages, on my desk, while writing this article – and monitoring other topics discussed in the committees, we can say that the tremendous amount of work cannot be done without the help of a small team of skilful colleagues.
In this context, I would like to underline one particular thing. I was talking about comparing Czech MEPs work. According to my own experience, we cannot number mechanically all the reports that were worked on by such and such MEP. The legislative draft may have 5 or even 105 articles and the Members of Parliament can only suggest some or even some hundreds of amended drafts. Some reports are discussed for months following a conflictless trialogue with the Council and Commission and compared to this; other reports can take years and undergo 10 trialogues before reaching an agreement. This also applies to other criterias that are often being compared without the knowledge of the subject. I have always followed this rule where, if I have something to say in the committee or in the plenary, I say it. But I will never stand up just to have another point for my account; I refuse this kind of point race. I am not willing to co-sign any kind of declaration, only the one whose added value has convinced my opinion. And I could go on and on…
But let’s get back to the main subject. Every report first undergoes a vote in committees. The European Parliament’s decision making in plenary is naturally decisive and the duty of the rapporteur or shadow rapporteur is to provide all background information needed for their own political group. The Strasbourg week is being generally very hectic and other meetings tend to take place there at the same time.
The ITRE committee nominated me also for the STOA panel, which mysteriously represents the Science and Technology Options Assessment, and where I get all the necessary arguments for discussions about the exploitation of financial aid for Czech science and research. But this is not all. Next to the committees, the European Parliament also works in delegations that are working in relation with other countries outside the EU (Japan in my case for example), in sub-committees (aviation and space), with conferences and seminars etc. We can also add all the activities that are going on in my country, the Czech Republic, including lectures in schools and universities. I consider all these activities as being part of the most important contact I could have with these people, whose concerns I have always tried to represent at my best in the European Parliament – citizens and representatives of Czech enterprises. It might be considered as pretentiously underlined and summed up but, there is no boredom in this paradise. It is a quite challenging work and continuous learning.