OK, he’s a MP rather than a MEP now, but a piece by Jonathan Evans for Public Service Europe annoys me. There are some valid points in the piece on the way the EP and Westminster work, but this is the frustrating bit:
The ordinary voter is used to the role of their local MP – to the point of directing an ever-increasing constituency workload. The MEP, on the other hand, is generally anonymous.
Hell, Evans was a MEP for 10 years! What did he do in that time to make himself known? Why didn’t he build a national media presence? Daniel Hannan has done so. Secondly, the notion that voters even know who their MPs are is wide of the mark – according to Ipsos-MORI only 38% can even name their MP. While there is no denying that better work is needed to highlight what the European Parliament and its members so, people like Evans need to take their share of responsibility for the predicament, rather than whining and projecting the traditional notion that all is fine and dandy with the Westminster system in comparison to Brussels.
@European Citizen – fair point, 1/3 of British people would better know what they would get from their MP rather than their MEP, but frankly masses of the things MPs are asked are beyond their powers to influence anyway.
Loads of people do contact MEPs, most notably when campaigns are orchestrated, and they do get masses of mail and queries about things. Their responses – if they were any good as politicians – could largely be the same as the things you’ve outlined for MPs. OK, Qs in Parliament are not so fun, but MEPs have decent staffing resources and should be able to command a presence in the national and regional press.
I suspect people are more used to the role of a local MP to the extent that asking them to solve a particular problem has some chance for success (let’s say a lot of clerks/institutions whatever may get moving after receiving a call from the MP’s office). The MP has resources which they can mobilize: access to media, organizing demonstrations, asking questions in the UK Parliament which would generate even more publicity etc
Why would the average person make any attempt to contact their MEP? The only thing that the MEP can do is raise a question in the EP and demand an answer from the Commission or Council. I’ve had the misfortune of reading some of these answers and they are quite bureaucratic and predictable. They also do not demonstrate a commitment to which the Commission can then be held accountable in the same way as getting the Prime Minister to pledge something would do.