You are a Green, so why is much of your work related to social issues - shouldn't you be more interested in working on environmental issues?
Green Politics covers every area of policy. If we wish to protect the environment this means changing our use of natural resources, which touches on how we produce goods, the way we work, how we travel and so on.
What do you like most about being an MEP?
I love working in an international environment, after all Green politics is global politics. I think it's a privilege to meet different local organisations and see how our politics work on the ground.
What do you like least about being an MEP?
Not much! I dislike the way so many journalists belittle us, because they won't make the effort to understand the work we do.
Do you spend a lot of time travelling?
I travel every week. My home is in London but Parliament meets in Brussels for Committees and Group Meetings for 3 weeks out of 4 and in Strasbourg on a monthly basis for full meetings of Parliament. (Plenary Sessions) I might also visit other places for Conferences or grass-roots visits.
I've heard about the Brussels 'gravy train'. Do you get a lot of financial bonuses for being an MEP on top of your salary?
We are paid the same salary as MPs of our countries. I then receive a daily allowance to cover hotel and meal costs for any day I attend a Parliamentary meeting. Our travel costs are covered by a formula based on the cost of a standard, flexible ticket plus distance travelled and distance from airport or station. We get allowances to pay for staff and office expenses in our constituency. (Rent, phone bills etc.)
I read that most MEPs have money left over from the money they get for travel expenses. What do you do with this money?
Travelling by Eurostar leaves little cash left over - it's an expensive train. Any surplus monies from other journeys for Parliamentary meetings goes towards my UK travel costs and enabling members of my party to attend international Green meetings and stay in touch with the work I am doing.
How did you come to be an MEP? What made you decide to stand to be an MEP?
We face global problems which we can't deal with only on a national basis. I want to be part of an international movement for positive change. The European Union has increasing power and I want to try and shape that. I studied modern languages, had been involved with the European Green Parties of the years and campaigned to change the electoral system, so when the chance to be elected came I grabbed it!
How much influence do you feel you individually have in the Parliament?
More than you might think. Apart from the legislative work where, if you are responsible for a report, you can become Parliament's expert and help decide policy, there are other ways to have influence. You can raise issues directly with the Commission and propose changes. You can hold events in Parliament to introduce organisations and issues. You can visit other countries to gain publicity on an issue and put pressure on governments. MEPs are not powerless.
How much do you represent London in your work, and how much the Greens?
I try to connect London and the Parliament. If I'm talking about working time, I raise issues constituents have raised. If I'm working on a report, I will try to visit relevant organisations in London. I also try to link issues with Green colleagues in the GLA as I have done on sustainable development Thames Gateway and green training in cost reduction. You can only make a difference if you make the links and push for change.