In a European Union of 27 member states and around 500 million people, it’s often difficult to see how the individual citizen can have an impact.
That’s why MEPs, as the directly elected part of the EU, have an important role to fill.
One way we can do this is to put direct questions to the Commission on behalf of individual constituents, and I do this on a whole host of issues.
Putting a question requires the Commission to respond, and to investigate if required, sometimes with surprising results.
About a year ago, a constituent from Nottinghamshire contacted me about Ryanair and the fact that, though they operate online and take bookings this way, there is no email address on which to contact them direct.
I put this question to the Commission suggesting that this was against EU rules on e-commerce. Commissioner Barnier found that this was the case and has asked the Irish authorities, who are responsible for the enforcement, to take action.
So Ryanair – a major business concern – could be forced to change its communication procedures, all as a result of a single email from a constituent to an MEP.
A fuller account can be found on the “This is Money” financial website.