The Labour MEP for Wales leads budget discussions, welcomes members of the House of Commons Welsh Affairs committee to Brussels, and meets a new face at the New Zealand mission to the EUMonday
It is the first Monday back in Brussels after the summer recess and I get to the office quite early. My first meeting is with my office team to discuss priorities for this session. Next, I clear a mountain of mail and documents that need reading. In fact, I do not know whether to read them or climb them. The final meeting of the first morning is with the secretary of the European Parliament's Rugby Union Intergroup, which I chair. We discuss the forthcoming meeting on Wednesday and future events, such as a Heineken Cup match in Brussels and a possible visit by the Welsh Rugby Union. After a quick vegetable wrap – I am on a diet – it is back to clearing the mail.
In the late afternoon I meet with the Socialists and Democrats group budget secretariat to discuss the parliament and other European Union institutions' budgets, for which I am responsible – the rapporteur in parliament speak. We discuss possible savings and the news that there is a problem with the ceiling in the main debating chamber. I hope it is not too serious or it will have consequences for the budget. There is more paperwork to clear afterwards, then it is a quick beer with some colleagues and an early night. The first days back are always tiring.
It is the second day back and at the start of the day I sit down to yet more reading. In mid-morning the S&D group members meet to discuss our position on the 2013 EU budget. As rapporteur of the other institutions' budgets I am trying to keep the increase in the administrative budgets at or below 1.9 per cent, which would be a real terms cut. By the afternoon I am in another meeting with S&D colleagues, but this time the multiannual financial framework is on the agenda. Discussions take place about the European Council wanting to cut the MFF for the period 2014-2020 and the impact that would have on EU investment in growth and jobs.
It is now late in the afternoon and I have meetings with the European Court of Auditors, the Committee of the Regions and the European External Action Service to discuss their budgets for 2013. In the early evening I attend a full S&D Group meeting, in which many discussions take place, with a primary focus on topics appearing on next week's Strasbourg plenary agenda. I finish off the evening with dinner and an early night as I have a packed agenda tomorrow.
I start what will be a busy day with an internal meeting on the budget, then at 9am there is a full S&D meeting. This time, the main topic is the European economic and financial crisis. The consensus in the group is that we need to tackle issues relating to banks and the promotion of growth and jobs.
After meetings with the European Economic and Social Committee and the parliament's secretary general, I attend a working lunch with MPs from the House of Commons Welsh Affairs committee, who are on a fact-finding mission in Brussels. I always welcome these opportunities to explain how the parliament works and what the current key issues are. Next up is a meeting of all the United Kingdom's Labour MEPs, followed by a meeting of the parliament's Rugby Intergroup, which includes interesting presentations by the French and Belgian Rugby Federations. After a working dinner I head back to my apartment.
I am in early for a full Budget committee meeting where I give colleagues an update on my proposals for the parliament and other institutions' budgets for 2013. There are also a large number of votes at this morning's committee meeting. After a sandwich at the desk I have a meeting with the new number two at the New Zealand mission to the EU. As chair of the parliament's Friends of New Zealand group I have a lot of contact with the New Zealand Embassy. Later I am back in the office to read emails and documents. With the amount of reading I have to do, it is lucky I can skim read. After work it is dinner and a beer followed by an early night as I have a flight to catch in the morning.
I have an early start to the day to catch a flight from Brussels to Manchester. After picking up my little hire car I drive to my office in Wrexham, North Wales. There, I clear some mail and do an interview for a student undertaking research into how UK local authorities influence the parliament. Next is a meeting with business people at Deeside Industrial Park regarding plans for an enterprise zone and issues relating to EU trademark law. Afterwards I meet up with the Labour Police Commissioner candidate to campaign on a large housing estate. When I am finished I drive back to my hotel to have a quick and lonely dinner and an early night.
After a healthy breakfast in the hotel it is a short drive to a Labour Social Club to speak to a meeting. I give an update on the current EU issues including the financial and economic crisis, and suggest that the EU should play its part in promoting growth and jobs. Now for a long drive of four hours and 15 minutes back to South Wales. When I arrive I go to watch the Ospreys rugby team play Ulster in Swansea. Unfortunately, the Ospreys lose. Never mind – the result is soon forgotten over a few post-match beers.
It is my first chance for a long sleep and I take it. After breakfast, packing and a little bit of mail I drive to Bristol airport to board a flight back to Brussels. Back in Brussels, summer has arrived on September 9. There is no chance to enjoy it, however, as I must go straight back to my apartment in order do some work on the budget. This has to be done as I have some important meetings on my budget report in Strasbourg on Monday. With the work finished it is a small snack and off to bed. I am sure I will dream of Strasbourg and how nice it would be if the parliament had a single seat based in Brussels.Derek Vaughan is a Labour party MEP who represents Wales in the United Kingdom