There are 20 parliamentary committees in the European Parliament. A committee consists of between 25 and 71 MEPs, and has a chair, a bureau and a secretariat. The political make-up of the committees reflects that of the plenary assembly and they meet once or twice a month in Brussels in public.
The committees draw up, amend and adopt legislative proposals and own-initiative reports. In addition they consider Commission and Council proposals and, where necessary, draw up reports to be presented to the plenary assembly.
In the 2014-2019 Parliamentary session I am a full member of the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee and a substitute member of the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) Committee.
The ITRE Committee concentrates on issues relating to industry, research and development, energy, telecommunications, information technology and the digital economy.
With reindustrialisation as the overarching aim, the ITRE Committee has four priority areas:
- Ensuring that EU’s legal and economic framework enables the European industrial sector to become more innovative. This will require adapting and mobilizing EU’s R&D and education programs to effectively respond to the actual needs of the industry.
- Boosting the development and growth of European small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Building a true European digital market.
- Exploiting the full potential of EU’s common energy policy. Only with secure energy can we make our economy globally competitive and avoid economic decline.
- Within ITRE, I am currently working on issues regarding fuel poverty, the promotion of a digital single economy and the protection of IPR, I am also closely monitoring the European Commission proposal on an Energy Union.
- In April 2015, I held an event in conjunction with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) to address copyright and the “value gap”, which arises from the very significant mismatch between the value that certain digital platforms extract from music and the value that is returned to rights owners.
- In April 2015, I held a discussion with Universities UK to address EU funding to UK universities, with particular focus on European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
- For World TB Day in March 2015, I hosted an event, in collaboration with charity DSW, to celebrate World TB Day and to push for more EU funding to be given to global health research and development. I also wrote an article outlining the leading role that Europe can play in the eradication of tropical diseases worldwide.
- In March 2015, I hosted an event in conjunction with EASAC and the Royal Society on reducing the impact of extreme weather on people’s lives. Changes in weather patterns and extreme weather are one of the principle effects of climate change. Thus this event was intended to raise awareness of the importance of increasing resilience to extreme weather events and discuss the role MEPs and other European institutions can play in combating extreme weather.
- In March 2015, I submitted evidence to this UK Parliamentary report on energy and climate change.
- On 24th February 2015, along with Kathleen Van Brempt MEP the S&D Group Vice-President responsible for sustainable development, I presented the presented the Socialists and Democrats’ (S&D) position on the energy union.
- On 22 January 2015, in my capacity as the Shadow Rapporteur on an Opinion of the establishment of a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), I led a progressive coalition to secure a ‘historic rejection’ of right-wing proposals to weaken the ETS. The final Opinion was rejected by the majority of MEPs. I believe that the Opinion as it stood would have been highly regressive and would have had an extremely negative impact on the ETS without benefiting industry in the long run. By voting against the ITRE opinion, we were fighting against a right-wing attempt to hijack the ETS.
- In December 2014, I wrote an article on energy policy for The European Files, a political, economical and social magazine.
Energy policy has been at the centre of the European project since its start and it now becomes urgent that we improve the coordination of our national energy policies if we want to achieve EU-wide energy efficiency and security.
- On 13 November 2014, following the abolition of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) and the establishment of its replacement, the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), I co-signed an open letter with fellow Labour MEPs Clare Moody, Glenis Willmott, Jude Kirton-Darling and Seb Dance querying the European Commission’s commitment to science-based policymaking. The letter reflected our concerns over the absence of a dedicated scientific adviser role. We called on the Commission to propose a replacement consultative body for impartial and transparent scientific advice. We also emphasised that any scientific advice received by the Commission must be transparent, impartial, and draw on a broad base of the best available evidence.
- On 10 November 2014, as a full member of the ITRE committee, I hosted an event entitled: “Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) – An essential part of Europe’s industrial growth equation”, in the form of a High Level European Parliament Hearing. In collaboration with the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP), the hearing aimed to act as a platform for organising a development strategy for CSS technology across Europe. I believe that it is crucial that we recognise the importance of CCS and what it will bring to industrial growth in my region and beyond. I hope we can go forward with a strategy for CCS across Europe. As we move toward a more sustainable solution to heavy industry and energy security, we must also keep in mind our climate objectives – CCS will be a key part of this. I will be working to ensure that CCS targets will be included in a 2030 energy and climate framework.
The aim of the TRAN Committee work is to ensure mobility while at the same time protecting the climate. After all, transport is not only responsible for 24% of all CO2 emissions in the EU but it has also increased its emissions by 28% since 1990. Over the same period, households were able to reduce their emissions by 24%, and industry by as much as 32%. Without changes in mobility, we shall therefore not be able to halt climate change.
The TRAN Committee is working towards effective and reliable infrastructure, fair rules for the whole transport sector, the highest standards of safety and binding rights for people travelling in Europe. We strive to guarantee clean, safe and affordable mobility in Europe – particularly across borders.
- I have been working closely with Lucy Anderson MEP (London) and Steve Rotheram MP (Liverpool Walton) to advocate the improvement of tyre safety in the UK and across the European Union. This follows from the death of three people, from the North West of England, in a coach crash on the way back from Bestival music festival in 2012, due to the blow out of a 19.5 year old tyre. There is no mention of the lifespan of tyres in European legislation and I believe that this is something that needs to change. I am working to push the Commission to publish a study on tyre safety and to look at the issues of aged and second-hand tyres and to set up a working group on best practices around the EU. This is an area where the European Parliament could really make a difference to people’s lives.
- I am also working on improving disabled access at Manchester Airport and reviewing the closure of the Liverpool coastguard service at Crosby, with Gordon Marsden MP.