Yesterday I was in Brussels for the second of our meetings of the new European Conservative and Reform Group. I continue to be extremely impressed by members I have spent time with in the new group, especially from some of the smaller countries. I can not tell you how un-impressed I am with the bureaucracy... I have no bug with individual members of the staff but the FORMS! Hours and hours and hours filling in bits of paper. Over a month since polling day but we are still not formally inaugurated so I can not even get a phone line. Apparently there is a parliament email account with a bulging inbox in my name that I will not be allowed to access until next week.
In the meantime my home email and blackberry have been buzzing with questions from constituents.
Yesterday afternoon we met two of the candidates for the presidency of the parliament. Both prioritised human rights, energy security and environmental issues (hard to argue on the principal but the devil will always be in the detail). One was a UK Lib Dem who suggested MEPs should have MORE expenses (for self publicity) but at least conceded that we should have a debate on the future of the Strasbourg circus. He suggested that all the truly horrid things he had said about the new group during the election should be put down to the heat of battle and he didn't really mean them...(!)
Next we met the Polish EPP candidate, a respected free marketeer with a businesses and research background. Sadly no debate on Strasbourg offered and he's a firm backer of the Lisbon treaty. Whilst I have been elected to vote on behalf of the electorate of the East of England I am realising that decisions will often be weighing up the proverbial rock vs hardplace.