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Hertfordshire Liberal Democrat Tops Poll as “most influencial Briton in EU policy”

by Nick Hollinghurst on November 18, 2012

Hertfordshire resident, Liberal Democrat Sharon Bowles MEP is already well known both as the powerful chair of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Now, after being chosen as MEP of the Year  last month and then named by a Financial News publication as one of the ’30 most Inspirational Women in the City of London’ , she has been named by a poll across Europe’s senior politicians and civil servants as “the most influencial Briton on and in European policy making”.

In contrast to the everyday heckling and intimidation in the House of Commons and the “yah boo” of prime minister’s question time – amusing theatre but probably not good politics – the situation in the European Union institutions in Brussels is rather different. There the debate is more measured, balance between the interests of 27 member states is often complicated to achieve and compromise is not a dirty word in the way it is in Westminster. Within the European environment a very different type of politician can prosper and be effective.

This was starkly highlighted in a ranking of the most influential Britons in EU policy, which placed Liberal Democrat Sharon Bowles MEP at the top.

The Guardian’s Jon Worth wrote:

“Sharon Bowles is a steely but understated 59-year-old. She has represented the South East region of England in the European parliament since 2005 and is well known in Brussels circles. She chairs of the powerful and important Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, a role she has held since 2009. Sharon will chair the committee until 2014 – high praise when most chairs last only two and a half years.

“Bowles, who left Hague (8th), Cameron (9th) and Clegg (15th) trailing in the ranking, follows in the footsteps of Caroline Lucas, now Britain’s only Green MP, as a politician who built her reputation as a determined policymaker in Brussels. Theresa Villiers, one of only four women in the UK cabinet, also started out as an MEP.

“In the European parliament, 34.8% of MEPs are women, and this compares favourably with the House of Commons, where female representation has not yet reached 25%. When comparing Westminster to Brussels, the list-based election system for UK MEPs helps gender balance.

“Moreover, in Westminster, every ambitious backbencher would one day like to be a minister – the backbencher job is not just about the now, it is about where it might lead. In comparison, the European parliament is more egalitarian. There, even a regular MEP can wield considerable influence and has a level of responsibility far above that of any London backbencher. [The system favours] hard-working and knowledgeable people, very much the style of  Bowles.

“So congratulations to Sharon Bowles. Not only is it good to see a female politician top such a list, but her award is testimony to the more measured and collaborative means of policy-making in Brussels. There is a lot Westminster could learn.”

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