As the first Eurosceptic MEP to be nominated for an MEP award, EFDD group member Peter Lundgren says he feels "honoured, especially after only being in office for six months", explaining that the nomination "was a surprise – I actually didn't know there was a competition".
Of course, it might seem a bit odd for an anti-EU MEP to be in the running for an award for his work at EU level, but the Swedish deputy insists his colleagues in the EFDD group "were quite thrilled – I am the first Eurosceptic ever to be nominated for this.
He adds that, "Nigel [Farage, EFDD group leader] laughed about it and said, 'you are aware you're in a Eurosceptic group and now you're nominated for this award?', but with a big smile on his face".
Lundgren explains that this nomination "is a recognition for the group, that we actually do something and people are noticing – it's a recognition for the whole group".
"Parliament's transport committee likes the fact that I have 30 years' practical experience, which none of them have – they have spent most of their time in education"
He has also been "congratulated by members of other parliamentary groups".
But Lundgren's nomination has not only made waves in parliament, it has also "been a huge news subject in Sweden". Indeed, "it's quite a big deal, especially among our voters – we've had a couple of thousand comments on Facebook – they are very happy that we have already made our mark and people are aware that we are here".
The MEP has been nominated in the transport category, a policy area he says is "closest to my heart because I spent my entire life working in transport, so for me the goal from the beginning was to come here and raise the issue that some things are not working properly". Lundgren has been a truck driver for the past 30 years.
In his view, "parliament's transport committee likes the fact that I have 30 years' practical experience, which none of them have – they have spent most of their time in education. It comes in very handy, when other MEPs propose something, I know from the start it won't work and I can tell them exactly why from a practical point of view".
One of the main issues he has been working on is that of fake driving licences available for purchase online, but it has not been an easy road.
He explains that when citizens come to him with a problem, he must start by thoroughly researching the topic in his office, "and see how to present it to the transport committee to make them realise they need to take action".
Moreover, "it is necessary to do a good job when presenting and have some very good statements because if not, they will not take us seriously – particularly when you come from a Eurosceptic group, you have to do excellent preparatory work".
Currently, Lundgren's office is researching air transport safety issues.
The winners of the MEP awards will be announced on 18 March.