But the parliament most certainly isn’t irrelevant or unimportant. In the four years I’ve been an MEP, we have adopted legislation stopping cosmetics being tested on animals, boosting recycling, forcing the French to open up their energy market, opening up travel for British pets, boosting the development of renewable energy and biofuels _ the list goes on.
It is no exaggeration to say that MEPs are now Europe’s most influential lawmakers. The European parliament is blissfully free of overweening government majorities. Individual MEPs, regardless of party affiliation, exercise a degree of direct leverage over legislation unheard of in national parliamentary systems.
However, the credibility of the Parliament is being threatened by the ‘democratic deficit’.
Yet the lack of interest in the European parliament among voters threatens its credibility. Reversing the lamentable voter turnout at next year’s Euro-elections will be a defining moment…
As with so much in the EU, the European parliament suffers from a poverty of political leadership. Europe’s leaders created it in the first place. Now they cannot simply disown their creation. Political leaders everywhere must make the case for Europe and its institutions where it counts, at home. Don’t blame Brussels for voter apathy. Blame ourselves.
However, while the European Parliament may be powerful, it does seem that Clegg finds it hard to resist the temptations of London – he’s standing down as an MEP next year to be a candidate for the next Westminster elections.