EU-NGO Connect: Your MEPsMEPs are the politicians elected to represent us in Europe. It’s their job to be the voice of their constituents at the European Parliament and they’re directly accountable to us – the people who vote them in.
[VIDEO]To do their work efficiently they need the support of local communities and groups and will make time to hear the views of their constituents. If we want to get the best out of our MEPs it’s important to engage with them and let them know about the issues that concern us.MEPs can approve, amend or reject nearly all EU legislation. They also hold the European Commission to account and can force it to resign.
Ireland currently has 12 MEPs representing four constituencies: Dublin; East; South; and North West. Our three biggest political parties – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour - are represented as well as the Socialist Party and an Independent.
However, unlike TDs in Dail Eireann, our MEPs sit in cross-party political groups at the European Parliament. There are seven groups in total and they’re organised by broad political affiliation rather than nationality.
The European Parliament’s work is prepared in its 20 standing Parliamentary Committees and MEPs are generally full members of at least one Committee.
They’ll also be substitute members on at least one more and during their term of office may be drafted onto various sub-committees to deal with specific issues.
[img]gallery/thumb_irelands-meps.png[/img]Irish MEPs will always welcome input from civil society organisations like NGOs from their constituencies to help them in their role as legislators.
Making good use of your local MEP can push our agendas onto the European political stage.
Here’s some examples of the powers MEPs have:
• Legislative power:
Thanks to the co-decision procedure, the Parliament has shared legislative power with the Council. That means MEPs can adopt directives, decisions and regulations
• Budgetary power:
MEPs decide each year on EU expenditure and revenue. Parliament has the final say on a considerable amount of EU spending
• Watchdog power:
Through the Parliament, MEPs exercise democratic control over the European Commission. They also nominate the European Ombudsman
• People Power:
MEPs have the right to receive petitions from citizens
WHERE TO START
• Find out about your MEP, what he stands for and what his subjects of interest are. MEPs run extensive campaigns in order to get elected. Do some research and see what promises they made before they took up office and hold them accountable to any that are related to your group’s topics of concern.
• Write to your MEPs and arrange to meet with them so your group can develop a relationship that can be of mutual benefit.
• Check our your MEPs and inform yourself about their background, their political views and their fields of concern. There’s a listing on the European Parliament’s Irish Office website with links to the sites of all Irish MEPs
• See which MEPs are involved in parliamentary committees of concern to you.
• Ask your MEP to help you link up with EU NGO networks or find support from like-minded MEPs
• If you don't like the sound of one of the European Commission's proposals, MEPs can work on your behalf to have it amended or rejected
• MEPs might also be able to help get European funding for your group or for your region.
MEPs sometimes sit on informal cross-party groupings called parliamentary intergroups that provide a space for MEPs to discuss shared interests which are not represented in standing committees.
These intergroups unite on issues such as animal welfare, disabilities and anti-racism and they allow MEPs from different Parliamentary Political Groups and Standing Committees to work together to tackle the issue.
The secretariat of these committees is often provided by NGOs. They generally hold their meetings during the Parliamentary sessions held in Strasbourg and are open to the public
MEPs can help you, but they can only act within the limits of their competence. That means they can’t make your local council mend the pavement but they may be able to act if the council plans to build on a local green space that’s of environmental or cultural significance.
That’s because while the broken pavement is clearly the responsibility of the local council, building on the green space could be in breach of EU law if it’s home to a protected species or is an important historical site.
If the council decided to press ahead with the building project, the development could still be halted if it was found to be contrary to an EU directive or regulation.
WHO TO CONTACT:
Your local Irish MEP
The European Parliament Office in Ireland