Lancaster politician Gina Dowding’s role as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) will come to and end next week.
Just eight months after she was elected to represent the North West of England in Brussels, her role will come to an “abrupt end” when the UK leaves the EU on January 31.
Ms Dowding, who represents the Green Party and is also a Lancaster city and Lancashire county councillor, said she was “deeply saddened” by the way things had turned out, and “more disappointed than ever” that the UK is “deliberately breaking away from collaboration and cooperation with the nation’s closest neighbours”.
But she said she would return to her city and county roles with “renewed enthusiasm” for working at the local level, particular on climate change and zero carbon initiatives.
She said her final days in Strasbourg saw her passing resolutions on issues from the European Green Deal – the European Commission’s first attempt to introduce a range of policies across the board to deal with the climate crisis – to human rights abuses in Nigeria.
She said: “I spoke in the debate on EU citizens’ rights within the withdrawal amendment bill which will finally be voted on in Brussels on January 30.
“Whilst I am deeply saddened that I am coming to the end of what has been a wonderful and productive experience as the first, and for now last, Green MEP for the North West, I am also more disappointed than ever that we are deliberately breaking away from collaboration and cooperation with this huge block of our nearest neighbour.
“This is not just about quality trade in goods and services with an underpinning agreement to protect the environment and working standards, but also a relationship in a whole range of other endeavours that EU countries together undertake: to deal with global problems from the climate crisis, to social inequality to addressing the challenges of the digitisation of the economy.”
This week, Coun Dowding is launching a report on Sustainable and Active Travel in the North West, where a range of transport experts will present ideas for what sustainable travel systems means.
This follows up on the Green New Deal in the North West report the Green Party published in October, and goes into more detail about where the power lies for making decisions about roads, buses, trains and cycleways within the region.
She is also publishing a paper on The Future of Research and Innovation Funding in the UK After Brexit, as the UK will no longer receive funds from the €100 billion Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for the EU.
She said: “For seven months I have been the Green group’s nominee working on the details of the Horizon Europe programme and so am all too aware of the fact that the UK will lose out on the networking and research infrastructure in this new programme.
“In fact both sides lose out if the UK does not negotiate ‘associate member’ status and there will no doubt be hard bargaining on this issue.
“Many of our universities, scientists and other research institutions are very concerned about the UK losing its excellent reputation, as it will struggle alone to compete to provide the same research conditions that come from so many partners working together.”
She added: “In February I will return to my roles as both Lancaster city and Lancashire county councillor with renewed enthusiasm for working at the local level.
“I’ve always believed local action is really important, and perhaps in the next few years it will be even more essential, as it does not look as if we can trust our national government to prioritise action on the climate crisis.
“The Green Party motto has always been ‘think globally, act locally’ and I will be doing just that with an extra set of insights and skills, whilst knowing within the European Parliament across all political grouping the hard working UK MEPs have been, and continue, to be widely valued and respected.”