Richard Howitt: January 29 2004

SEX, drugs and rock and roll.Has that got your attention? After all, the problem about the European Union is so few people really know what's going on.

SEX, drugs and rock and roll.

Has that got your attention? After all, the problem about the European Union is so few people really know what's going on.

So in the run up to this coming June's European elections, let me try to persuade you why you should take part.

Britain is part of Europe – it's a geographical fact. We have been members

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of the European Union for more than 30 years, and large majorities in the

population accept this is vital for jobs, prosperity and security.

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There will always be people who want us to leave the EU, just as there are those who say Elvis is alive and working in Tesco. Both belong in the past.

Europe is the place more than any other where Britain does business. And if we mean business, we need to be well represented there.

Which brings us to the European Parliament.

Like any Parliament, it draws together people of all interests and backgrounds, backed by the legitimacy conferred by democratic election, to represent the views of our electors – your views – in taking the decisions needed.

Forget the arguments about the new draft EU constitution. Since the Maastrict Treaty of 1992, negotiated by a former Conservative Government, Euro MPs have had full rights to pass EU laws on just about all matters affecting domestic policy: industry, competition, employment, consumer protection, transport and the environment.

But sensibly they have to be passed at one and the same time by representatives of the national governments.

In addition, Euro MPs scrutinise the European Commission staff whose responsibility it is to implement the agreed policies. We make sure the

money is well-spent. We promote the interests of our constituencies and our


So the quality of the individual MEP elected really does matter.

Over the next few weeks, I will be part of the excellent team of seven candidates seeking to persuade you that a Labour vote in June best guarantees that representation.

While others may trade in colourful but false anti-European propaganda,

Some of whom barely attend the Parliament's proceedings, our priority is to

influence decisions in Europe, not public opinion back at home.

And although we will always criticise when justified, as a Labour Euro MP I

have always believed you have elected me to make Europe better, not bring

it to a halt.

Decisions about support for the new constitution or British membership of

the Euro will actually be made at Westminster not Brussels.

So vote for MEPs who will do the important job of work that needs to be done

in Europe on behalf of local people.

n Richard Howitt is a Labour MEP for the East of England.

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