• UK universities report on EU benefits

    British universities are represented in many arenas by Universities UK. One of their current campaigns is to spread the word about the value that UK universities, and through it our world-leading research and higher education generally, gain from British membership of the EU. A few highlights: The UK does disproportionately well in securing EU research funding, which stimulates […]

  • Leeds Bradford airport

    Travelling regularly again between Brussels and Yorkshire has enabled to renew my acquaintance with Leeds Bradford airport. The changes over the last five years are striking — though not all to the good! For a start, it’s now impossible to drop someone off by car, or pick them up, without paying a parking charge — […]

  • The war behind the smokescreen

    David Cameron claims that the Conservative party has united behind his much-vaunted ‘renegotiate and decide‘ agenda for Britain in Europe. But, behind the scenes, forces are marshalling for position ready for a battle of epic proportions — a battle whose opening skirmishes are taking place right now. Pro-European Tories are being ruthlessly hunted down by hardline eurosceptics. Some have withdrawn from […]

  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park

    Post-Tour, Yorkshire wows with sculpture

    It was a pleasant change from parliamentary discussions about committee chairs when I had the pleasure of hearing Peter Murray, founding director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, speak at the European Land Art Network yesterday. This EU-funded project brings together the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and others which display art in a natural setting or use nature as part of art. […]

  • The point of democracy

    I predicted yesterday that UKIP would start bleating when their group’s candidates for a committee chair didn’t receive support from other political groups in the European Parliament. On Twitter, they are now claiming this breaks “EU rules” and that democracy requires them to be given a committee chair! So let’s get something straight. There is […]

  • Who gets what?

    Today in Brussels, Parliament’s new committees meet for the first time to formally elect their chairs and vice-chairs. Traditionally, before we proceed to elect our important posts at the start of a term, the main political groups try to reach an agreement allocating these posts to candidates from each group in proportion to the size […]

  • The first week in Parliament

    The arrival of new and old MEPs in Strasbourg for the first European Parliament session has been described as feeling like the first week of a new school year — with new pupils (sorry, Members) getting lost, sorting out who gets which room (sorry, office), finding out who will be in which class (sorry, committee) […]

  • →Unity in…?

    A colleague shared with me this rather fun extract from the Atlas of Prejudice, showing 20 different ways to slice up the continent of Europe. Enjoy!

  • Why I won’t vote for Sajj Karim

    Ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the European Parliament to elect its new president (speaker), Sajjad Karim MEP, the Conservative candidate, is asking for support from MEPs from other parties. I have also been getting emails from conservatives in Yorkshire asking me to support him. I have respect for him as an individual MEP. He fights his […]

  • Observer interview

    I was quoted today in The Observer: Richard Corbett, elected in May as a Labour MEP after being an adviser to Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European council, said Cameron had set too much store by Merkel as an ally, believing that if he had her on side he was home and dry. “He […]

  • Observing the media scene

    Before taking my seat next week in the European Parliament, I was yesterday in the press room at the European Council meeting in Brussels on behalf of E!Sharp magazine, a respected journal on European affairs. It’s always instructive to witness how the media scene operates at such ‘summits’. Apart from the BBC, which has its own […]

  • Will British media fall for Cameron’s spin?

    Downing Street spin doctors have always had an easy time creating their own version of what happens at European summits. A combination of lobby journalists with little understanding of the EU, some compliant allies in the press, and not wanting facts to get in the way of a good story, usually combine to ensure that a […]