We put some questions to our MEPs to see how they are marking Europe day this year and how their parties will continue to help women in Wales post Brexit. Here is what Jill Evans (MEP) and (Derek Vaughan) had to say:
Q1. How will you and your party be celebrating EU Day this year?
Q2. What inspired you to get involved in public life, in particular with a European focus?
Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Q4. How do you think membership of the EU has benefitted women in Wales?
Q5. What do you think should be the primary areas of focus with regards to supporting women in Wales post Brexit?
Q6. What do you think are the main advantages of Wales working in partnership with other countries?
Derek Vaughan MEP – Labour Party
A1. To mark Europe day, our office doors will be open with activities to display our priorities and political initiatives which we do every year. There will also be a fun photo booth, live music and graffiti performances on the stage. Alongside the planned events, we are also inviting activists from across Europe to come and visit us and exchange views.
A2. I became a party member as a teenager and a councillor in my mid-twenties. I was always interested in European politics and studied it at university. Above all I was particularly interested in the creation of the EU as a peace project.
A3. The most rewarding part of my role as MEP is representing Wales in the European Parliament and also being able to influence legislation, which has a beneficial impact on 500 million people across Europe.
A4. EU membership has benefitted women in Wales in a variety of ways. Most of the social legislation which currently benefits women is EU legislation e.g. maternity pay and equal rights for part-time workers. The EU funding provided to date has already helped many women in Wales through providing training and employment opportunities.
A5. Regarding the primary areas of focus post Brexit, it is important that we keep all the social legislation if we leave the EU. I fear over time it will be eroded and this cannot happen.
A6. Wales benefits from working with other European countries as we have been able to learn best practice from elsewhere; this has been particularly the case in collaboration projects involving organisations from across Europe.
Jill Evans MEP – Plaid Cymru
A1. I will be in Wales on Europe Day. It will be bittersweet this year, of course, and I will mark the day by reminding people about why the EU was created and how much we will lose if we leave. I will ask all of Plaid Cymru’s elected members to celebrate the day by posting similar messages.
A2. I got involved in politics in my teens, mainly through the peace and environmental movements. I was elected as international spokesperson for Plaid Cymru in my mid-twenties and represented the party at a conference in Brussels. I went to listen to a debate in the European Parliament and was totally inspired! To see, for the first time, parliamentarians from several countries discussing, in different languages, issues very relevant to Wales was awesome. I knew that very moment that I wanted to be an MEP.
A3. Nothing comes close to the honour of representing Wales and speaking for Wales at an international level.
A4. EU Membership has benefitted women in Wales in so many ways to date. I was a Vice Chair of the Women’s Committee in my first term in parliament and saw first-hand how the EU led the way on equality issues and legislation. I have been delighted to work with Chwarae Teg over the years in celebrating groundbreaking programmes in Wales funded by the EU. We have been able to share our good practice as well as learn from other countries.
A5. We cannot afford to lose the support we have now – this is a primary concern for women in Wales post Brexit. Every penny of EU funding for women must be guaranteed by the UK. I still believe that it is in the best interests of women and of Wales itself to stay in the EU and I won’t give up on that.
A6. How does Wales benefit from working with other countries? Wales is a small bilingual country in a Europe of mostly small bilingual countries. The EU is our natural home. I want an independent Wales which can make its own decisions and I have seen how successful small and “agile” countries are in the EU. Partnerships of equals make for more effective and efficient projects. It is also a question of culture and identity. Our Welshness is reinforced by – not threatened by – our European partnerships