In the last week of May 2016, I spent a week in the European Parliament in Brussels. I chose here initially because I am interested in political affairs, and in light of domestic issues such as the referendum I thought It would be a good opportunity to learn about European Politics and mass bureaucracy.
Before I left, I was worried my experience of politics was insufficient to keep track of a new form of democracy. I knew I would be working along side MEPs, lobbyists and a variety of politically minded and argumentative individuals. I was nervous to see the other side of politics. Throughout the media we see the corruption surrounding politicians, I knew from being inside parliament I would be subjected to this first hand.
From this experience, I learned how much of a bureaucratic edifice parliament is. I learned how the European Parliament worked and was most interested by the concept of committees. I expected these to be smaller group based discussions rather than the primary legislative institutions that I have learned these are. My experience of TRAN as one of the biggest committees was enlightening. I was wrong to expect this to be smaller scaled discussions of general transport issues. The legislation was very specific, for example the EASA report which primarily concentrated on the safety of aviation. From these committees, I learned how efficient and effective European processes were. By concentrating primarily on one issue such as air safety rather than issues of employment and so forth, alongside MEPs who have expertise in these topics, meant that European legislation is much more specialised than British legislation. Members in the latter are less likely to have the level of experience and expertise necessary to produce the same levels of coherent policies.
I also learned how party driven discussions worked within European Parliament. What I learned here was although this was an issue, because European Parliament is led by 7 political groups plus one independent group, the discussion was less restrictive compared to British Parliament. In smaller group meetings such as the Shadows meeting for the Telicka report, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the aims for coherence between groups in order to produce efficient legislation, rather than to stick primarily by political principles which causes direct disagreement in UK Parliament between the Conservative and Labour parties.
Finally, I learned that democracy in the 21st century is still a mess. In light of the EU referendum, I understand the issues within parliament as I experienced them first hand.
However, I was saddened to be a part of a country who chose to move away from togetherness and improvement over cohesion and strength.