British MEPs in the European parliament can make a difference - and we already are

Shaffaq Mohammed MEP. Photograph: Supplied.

Shaffaq Mohammed MEP. Photograph: Supplied. - Credit: Archant

Lib Dem MEP SHAFFAQ MOHAMMED refutes suggestions that it is not possible for British MEPs to make a positive change. He says his party already has made a difference.

Lib Dem MEPs in the European parliament. Photograph: European Parliament.

Lib Dem MEPs in the European parliament. Photograph: European Parliament. - Credit: Archant

Some say a weeks a long time in politics, two weeks definitely is! But it's also long enough to start to make an impact.

My first impression of the European Parliament is that it's an organisation, representing over half a billion people, from 28 countries covering 24 languages. Of course it isn't perfect. But neither is Westminster. Or your local council.

I've been a Lib Dem MEP now for two weeks and its clear to me that there are plenty of opportunities for making change. You just need to have a vision for what you want to achieve and a plan to do it.

For me, it's all about young people, our future. That's why I asked to be put on the Culture and Education committee. Because I want to influence Erasmus+ for the many great universities I have in my region and further in the UK; because I want to focus on the impact of the EU budget for young people and because I want to work with others from across Europe on apprenticeships, a path for so many young people.

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I'm an MEP from a BAME background, yes there are too few of us, the same as at every level of politics, there isn't enough representation of the communities we represent, which is why I'm determined to make a difference, partly by being a member of the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, which I fought to get on.

Because making change, real change is about working with people. And often that's people who disagree with you. Because if we only dealt with people that agreed with us, we would never make any progress.

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It's easy to say after a couple of weeks here it's all too difficult. To sit on the sidelines and complain, to say this place isn't able to make positive change for the UK, to line up alongside the Brexit party and attack the EU.

But I don't want to do what's easy. I want to fight for what's right.

I fought to get elected to the European parliament because I want to achieve things, not just talk about doing things. Next week I'm meeting with senior figures from the Federation of Small Businesses, to discuss with them how they think small businesses in the region will be damaged by Brexit, but also to talk about what I can do in my role to support small businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber in my role as their MEP.

Taking the easy route of shouting and complaining is what caused wars and economic instability in Europe for centuries. We don't do that anymore.

We work together.

Two Liberal Democrats MEP's Chris Davies and Lucy Nethsingha have been elected as Chairs of committees, working with MEPs from right across Europe, from different countries, speaking in different languages, with different political backgrounds, but all working together to improve Europe for all of us, because that is how you make change as an MEP, by leading in Europe and not leaving it.

I've been a Liberal Democrat MEP for just a couple of weeks. But these two weeks are just the beginning of the change I want to make in the European Union, I've made a start on my plans to achieve the vision I have for Europe. I'm going to keep fighting for that vision, because it has young people at the heart of it, they deserve better, so I'm here demanding better.

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