Commission officials often ‘let off the hook’ in parliamentary questioning, says senior MEP

Outgoing UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies has admitted that although the European Parliament has “many faults,” it is a place where ideas can gain momentum.
credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

06 Jan 2020


Speaking exclusively to this website, Davies, who is serving his second term as an MEP, is among the British contingent set to bid a final farewell to Parliament at the end of this month when the UK exits the EU.

An MEP from 1999-2014 and elected again in last May’s European elections, Davies gave his thoughts and reflections on a distinguished parliamentary career in Brussels and Strasbourg.

He told The Parliament Magazine, “I loved the Parliament from the moment I arrived more than 20 years ago. I had had two years' experience in a House of Commons where the role of opposition politicians was confined to making a noise. But the Parliament is a place where ideas can gain momentum. I've worked across parties and across nationalities and felt able to forge alliances to introduce some positive improvements.”


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“The Parliament has many faults, but it has always felt to me like a more grown up place of work than the Commons,” added Davies, who has been a member of the environment committee throughout his parliamentary career during which he was also ALDE coordinator on the same committee from 2007-14.

He went on, “It has been great to finish on a high note, as chair of a parliamentary committee. In the short time I have had in the role I have shaped the agenda of our fisheries meetings, highlighting issues that were previously ignored, and making sure that MEPs have had a proper opportunity to do their job of holding Commission officials to account.”

“I have never understood why so many committee chairs 'group' MEPs’ questions, allowing the person under scrutiny to give one general answer to all instead of replying individually.”

“Why does the Parliament so often weaken its authority and let officials off the hook by giving them an easy means of avoiding giving serious responses to critical questions?” asked Davies.

“Why does the Parliament so often weaken its authority and let officials off the hook by giving them an easy means of avoiding giving serious responses to critical questions?”

Davies told this website, “When I am asked what I have accomplished as an MEP I like to mention that I introduced the principal financial mechanism for supporting innovative low carbon technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS). It was known as the NER300 but now becomes the Innovation Fund.”

“I introduced the legislation that has led to pictures being used to support health warnings on cigarette packs, and I hope it has saved lives as a result. And I set up the cross-party campaign group, Fish for the Future, which played a small part in ensuring that sustainability became central to the revised Common Fisheries Policy.”

Davies, chair of the fisheries committee since last year’s European elections, added, “Outside the EU we can expect UK governments to spend their time pretending that Britain is in charge of its own policies, when in reality I am sure we will sign up to a host of EU agreements and 'Brussels' will continue to set much of the real agenda.”

“It will be sham sovereignty, and such a waste of time and effort.  I want my country to be shaping EU policy not trying to avoid it; I want Britain to be an EU leader not a leaver.”

“I want my country to be shaping EU policy not trying to avoid it; I want Britain to be an EU leader not a leaver”

He concluded, “I'm 65, and I shall leave the Parliament not because I have lost an election but because my country is stupidly leaving the EU.  Maybe retirement beckons, but if someone has a role for an outspoken former MEP who has no time for fools and is in a hurry to make a difference for the better they can no doubt track me down.”

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