A very kind email

In the run-up to a national election, working in politics can seem even more exhausting than usual. But occasionally you receive an email — this from a Hertfordshire resident I’ve never met — which reminds you that it can also be immensely rewarding:

Dear Richard,

My voting card for the May 22 elections has been making me feel guilty for a week or two — guilty because I just didn’t know very much about the European Parliament and what an MEP does but felt I ought to vote. This morning, I came upon your fascinating article, What does an MEP actually do?, and within 5 minutes had a pretty good idea, was enthused about the process and keen to vote once I have researched more about the candidates.

Thank you. Please take this sincerely because I am neither from your area nor is your party my default of choice!

I have passed your article on to friends and family in the strong belief that, although they are smart people, very few have any more knowledge about this than I had yesterday! Wish I could do more.

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  1. Mr Corbett, your piece about the role of an MEP says –

    “The EU does not and cannot legislate in areas that are purely of national concern, such as housing, how we organise our schools and local authorities, our health service or our levels of income tax. ”

    But I just looked at the NHS European Office site which says –

    “The European Office is based in Brussels and London and is part of the NHS Confederation.
    The Office covers a wide range of EU policy and legislative developments which have implications for the NHS, with a dedicated section on the NHS Employers website also covering European employment policy issues.”

    In what sense are there “areas that are purely of national concern” any more ?

    • The agreements we make at European level are in limited policy areas, and many of the traditional political hot potatoes (health, education, levels of direct taxation) are a national rather than a European level responsibility. But they can be affected by European policies (or indeed by other national ones). Decisions we make in one area can have knock-on effects in others.
      The health service is a good example. European agreements such as mutual recognition of medical qualifications, the European Health Insurance Card or on minimum employment rights have an impact on the NHS, albeit a relatively small one, but that does not mean that the EU has responsibility for running the NHS.

      • Mr Corbett, is it so that the more competition is introduced in to NHS – tendering, contecting etc – the more likely EU competition law has an impact on it’s operations ?

  2. …further – Andy Burnham seems to think this is an imminent problem – especially regarding the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership treaty –

    ” [the TTIP] agreement will provide a legal heavy hand to the corporations seeking to grind down the health service. It will act as a transatlantic bridge between the Health and Social Care Act in the UK, which forces the NHS to compete for contracts, and the private companies in the US eager to take it on for their own gain.””


  3. Mr Corbett – I see that some people have been water-cannoned and arrested for protesting the TTIP

    Green party says –
    “Meanwhile, today in Brussels, some 200 activists including Green Party members were arrested protesting the TTIP, the secretive US-EU trade deal, one top prioroty of which is the increasing privatisation of the NHS.”

    This TTIP deal – will it impact the NHS in your opinion ?

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